Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Oct 15 2013

The world is silly.

My parents live in a fairly ritzy suburb of Boston, and they take their puppy every day to doggy day care in the city while they work. Perhaps a little fussy, but not outside the realm of possibility for a lot of people. It costs $28 a day to board your dog at this place. There are tons of these places, and I did a little research…all of the ones in ABQ cost between $17 and $25 a day, per dog, basically just to ensure that the dog doesn’t croak while you’re away.

I make $28,000 a year. That works out to $150 a day, not counting planning or weekends I spend in my classroom or extra time. That works out to $6 a kid a day. And I’m not just supposed to ensure lack of croakage, I’m supposed to teach them stuff!

I know some people will say this is an unfair comparison, and they’re right. The kids get more services than the dogs, school money needs to be spread around to lots of other things besides the teacher, and so on. I definitely make more than someone who watches the dogs all day.

But still.

People pay $28 a day to keep a dog breathing.

The state of New Mexico pays me $6 a day to teach a kid to read.

The world is a silly place.

4 Responses

  1. Serge Vartanov

    Wow. $28k a year (before taxes?) is way too low for a teacher, even in a low cost-of-living area, but it’s not because people are unwilling to spend more on dogs than children. If society actually paid $6k a day to teach a kid, at 180 school days that kid would cost $1,620 to teach. But that’s not what we spend.

    As it happens, average per-pupil spending is in New Mexico in just over $9000. (http://www.governing.com/gov-data/education-data/state-education-spending-per-pupil-data.html). This is about $50/day, or double what the wealthy are willing to pay to keep their dogs alive.

    In other words, your 25 kids a day drive over $225k into your classroom. You only get $28k of that. The remaining $200k goes somewhere else. I don’t know exactly where it goes (no time to look it up right now), but I imagine it’s a mix of Land/Property, Bussing, Food, Special Education, School Administration, District Administration, School Support Staff, Curriculum, School Supplies (ha), and more senior faculty.

    It would no doubt make a huge difference in all our lives if schools got more efficient on all those other costs and paid teachers more. I think The Equity Project charter school in New York (http://www.tepcharter.org/) is trying to do something like – it’s hard to pay teachers $125k + bonus a year without controlling other costs, but it appears to be possible.

    On a related note, I disagree that paying ~$25 a day for dog sitting services is within the realm of possibility for most people. That is a significant amount of money for something that is truly a luxury – it’s really more of an upper-class consumption than an average joe kind of thing.

    I would say it’s fair to assume that the same people who are willing to spend $25/day on their dog are willing to spend at least $100/day on their child. At 180 school days a year, comes to $18,000. $18k a year happens to be slightly higher than double the average tuition at a private school. (http://www.capenet.org/facts.html).

    • eminnm

      This is a way better analysis than my 10 seconds with a calculator! And yeah, that money goes lots of places, some of which are necessary and some are…questionable. At least at my school/district, I do think a major part of the problem is enormous misspending of funds. There’s a ton of money being spent ridiculously (or earmarked for specific use so we as a school have $700 that can only be spent on Science materials, by tomorrow. If we don’t spend it by tomorrow, or try to use that material for, say, novel sets, then it disappears into the abyss. This has actually happened, multiple times.)

      On that related note, I love my parents, but my dog spends the day while I’m working in my backyard. No puppy play group for us…but maybe that’s cuz I’m a teacher making jack diddly squat :-) Now, maybe we as a class should take care of 3 dogs a day. We could spend that $75 on all kinds of things…

      Food for thought: what would be the inconsistencies of comparing wealthy-dog-care with foster care? $25 for dog. $18 for kid, at least in NM. All of this is just my tired brain rambling, but it’s interesting and saddening to think about.

      • eminnm

        In the interest of full disclosure: I make $30,041 a year. Just checked my pay scale. Don’t know where that $2k went in my brain…

    • Of course, if $9,000 is the average per pupil spending, the average pupil isn’t actually costing that much. Students with certain exceptionalities skew the averages significantly.

      If the straight average spending is only $50/day per student, I wonder how much it actually is per day for a student who is not receiving expensive special services.

      Less than two dogs, anyway.

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In which I muse about New Mexico, teaching, and life in general.

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