Photo by Dan Smedley

My 15-year-old daughter just got a job working at her sister’s place of employment: a Thai restaurant. She started to bus tables, learn the computer system, give patrons water and even take their orders and bring their food by the time she had 8 hours of work under her belt.

I was sure she would come home and say, “No thanks. I hated it.” It’s not easy to be on your feet for a few dollars. She’s a straight A student and focuses on her violin playing. She does not do menial chores at home proactively. But she’s seen her sister make money and be able to purchase whatever she wants at Target or eat out on occasion.

She came home after working 6 hours yesterday. She served tables alongside her older sister. Her feet hurt, but she had a huge smile on her face and showed me the $36 in tips she made.

Later, exhausted, she said:

“I like working, it feels good to make your own money.”


Teacher Pay and Conditions



Seems pretty trivial these days, what with terrorism, gun violence and dirty politics in the news, but teacher pay in America is still dismal.

The world looks to Finland when it comes to education, yet their teacher pay is about average in the world. America pays teachers less than Finland does – less than the average. Not only that, teaching is prestigious in Finland, the teachers are well-respected by everyone. Observe a class in a public high school here and I doubt you would find a high level of respect coming from students to teacher.

This article, written by Dick Startz (Professor of Economics, UC Santa Barbara), outlines the issues with underpaying teachers. Yes, many teachers in the United States love their job. They teach very well, despite the low pay. But maybe there are other people out there – highly qualified, passionate educators – who do not pursue teaching because the of the low salary.

There is a lot of waste of money in education. Nearly 50% of all teachers in the United States quit within the first five years of teaching. It’s not simply a question of salary. Teachers – especially math teachers – feel a lack of classroom autonomy. Autonomy is essential for satisfaction in ANY job. But if you couple a low salary with lack of independence, it’s a career killer.

We have a lot of work to do. We need to demand equal rights for all, we need to have gun control and we need to fix broken systems. Give teachers more respect, equitable pay, and more autonomy in the classroom.