Teachers now and then

Monday begins my second week as a volunteer aide in a high school English classroom in preparation for student teaching in about 16 days. During a faculty meeting my first week there, one of the experienced teachers gave me a copy of NEAToday Go!, which is advertised as “The magazine for new teachers.” It had a number of interesting articles, but the inside back page is what most caught my attention. It was a photo of a young teacher holding himself up on gymnastics equipment, captioned “Holding Your Own.” Attached to the photo were some stats from NEA’s recent report, “Status of the American Public School Teacher.” I’m sure you’ll see why I was intrigued:

The percentage of teachers saying they work more than 60 hours a week in the ’70s was 5 percent; in 2006, it was 20.

The percentage of teachers who get a full hour for lunch in the ’70s was 9 percent; in 2006, it was 1 percent. (At my school, teachers get 30 minutes – as do the students, and, especially for the students who buy a lunch, it ain’t enough time.)

The percentage of teachers who became teacher because they like kids was 72 percent in the ’70s and 71 percent in 2006.

The percentage of teachers who said they chose the career because they wanted job secuity in the ’70s was 16 and in 2006 it was 17.

The mean (or average) class size in the ’70s was 27; in 2006 it was 29.

And finally, the creme de la creme: The mean salary for new teachers in the ’70s was $23,153. In 2006, adjusted for cost of living, it was $24,700.