We've all seen this in one form or another, whether it be the current derivation (recently most frequently found here -- requires a facebook account to view), or some other form of the same argument through chain e-mails or other forms over the years.
It needs to stop.
It's whiny and pedantic. It's making a terrible argument as a joke to get people to think and talk -- and it is getting people thinking and talking. The problem is it's getting teachers and their friends saying things like "this is the boost I needed today," or "yeah, we are underpaid," somehow basing this off of the numbers presented in the note, and having those who really are sick of highly-paid teachers say things like this:
"If king for a day, I would eliminate “Education” degrees - one of the most irrelevant degrees today. I want a teacher with a major in a real subject matter (science, math, English, etc) and not a degree in “how to teach”. I've read articles that entrants into “education” colleges are in the lowest 25% percentile - so the kids are being taught by the lowest intelligent grads."
"If I were czar, I would require **all** teachers to take and pass Calculus I for engineers and science majors. They would sit in the same classes, shoulder to shoulder, with the geeks.
Do teachers need Calculus to teach? No, of course not, but it would assure that they had a high enough IQ to be entrusted with a classroom of children. It would help prevent having math phobics teaching classes and passing their bias on to their students. And...Maybe having taken and passed Calculus the teachers would reject the nutty methods that are being used today to teach math.
Also...I would require all teachers to take and pass, once every three years, the GED for high school drop outs. If they can’t pass the GED then they shouldn’t be anywhere near kids as a teacher.
It is my guess that large numbers of government teachers would fail the GED, even if given a month or two to prepare. They would likely fail the math portion."
This is the reality. This is how some real people honestly view teachers and education (for more negative comments, check out Free Republic). These comments are based in falsehood, but they're real comments brought forth by this note. That brings me to my main point: this note is damaging to the teaching profession.
It's damaging because it unfairly compares the profession of teaching to the job of babysitting. Teachers know this is tongue-in-cheek, but the connection is still there. Nobody really thinks teachers are glorified babysitters, but here we are, making that argument, jokingly or not. The fact is, teachers are the brunt of a lot of criticism these days. Some of it deserved, and a lot of it not. We don't need to force our way into more undeserved criticism. We need to build up the profession.
Instead of arguing about pay in this manner (any job could do that, and it would show that all jobs are grossly underpaid), how about we proclaim the things we do as teachers? How about we talk about the training we all receive -- most of it while we are in the profession? How about we talk about the time we truly put in (one post at Free Republic mentioned requiring teachers to work 10 hours a day -- anybody else laugh at this being an underestimate?)? How about we stop making comparisons to the business world (since we're not in the business world), and start making professional comparisons? By this, I mean go ahead and compare us to lawyers and doctors and other professions. We, like them, are professionals, and have high standards. If a doctor screws up, there's a mighty lawsuit on his/her hands. If we screw up, we should also be held accountable. If this is the reality (which I purport that it is), we need to stop running from this.
Of course, the other reality, that we need to make known, is that there is currently no fair way to judge a teacher. There's no objective method that works. If a doctor were judged by the patients he/she has who don't survive after treatment, every doctor would be fired. Some just can't be saved, no matter how hard he/she tries. This is understood. The same is true of teaching, yet that is not understood. I don't know a single teacher who gives up on any student, just like I don't know a single doctor who gives up on any patient. But they don't all make it. That's the reality.
The other part of this reality is that teachers are only a piece of the puzzle that makes up a student's education. There are teachers, support staff, administrators -- these are all the paid positions. There are also parents and friends, who are probably more valuable to the individual student than all the paid positions. There is no formula, no equation that accounts for all of this and ends up with a grade for a teacher. There probably never will be.
And there shouldn't be. Teaching is a profession, not a job. We want that respect. We feel we've earned it. We need to act like it, even when the rest of the world doesn't treat us that way. That's what will make it a profession.