That attempt to value the position of ‘Housewife’ popped up in my Facebook feed again. I cringed because the attempt to translate a position like that into dollars and cents demeans the true value of the love and dedication a housewife and mother requires to fulfill all of the roles that must be filled to keep a household running properly day in and day out.
As Vader Diem (2015) writes: “The assumption is that the stay-at-home mother is juggling multiple positions, including facilities manager, CEO, laundry operator, computer operator, housekeeper, cook, day care teacher, van driver, janitor, and psychologist.” The writer puts this value at $113,586 per year, but then adds that the value has risen to $162,581 per year in 2018.
Despite the long hours and 24/7 on call status, that sounds like a pretty good salary even now (especially since the closest equivalent as mentioned in the same article in Live in Nanny is valued at $662 a week or just under $35,000 a year). It reminded me once again how undervalued these jobs are and how much overlap there is with teaching in terms of roles and responsibilities. Let us look at the roles that these positions share and some that are unique to teachers to try to estimate what a good teacher is actually worth.
- CEO: According to Salary.com. the median salary for a CEO is $802,900.
- Facilities manager: According to Salary.com. the median salary for a Facilities Manager is $105,056.
- Computer Operator: According to Salary.com. the median salary for an entry level Computer Operator is $48,690.
- Janitor: According to Salary.com. the median salary for a Janitor 1 position is $32,598.
- Psychologist: According to Salary.com. the median salary for a Psychologist with an M.A. is $94,162.
Looks like the value of the above mentioned jobs have gone up considerably since 2018 to a grand total of $1,083,406.
As a comparison, the Cambridge Teaching Knowledge Test(TKT) lists a number of similar roles for the teacher. These include: manager, monitor, informer, diagnostician, involver and planner. Harrison and Killion (2007).
On the other hand, list ten roles teachers take on within the school or educational community formally or informally which are; Resource Provider, Instructional Specialist, Curriculums Specialist, Classroom Supporter, Learning Facilitator, Mentor, School Leader, Data Coach, Catalyst of Change, and Learner.
Clearly, there is some disagreement over when and where educators take on a variety of roles within the school and classroom but their importance and diversity has only grown over the pandemic period. Some of these do not exactly match up with other professional jobs, but there an attempt to do so.
- Manager: Salary.com lists Education Manager and the average salary for that position is $79,453.
- Monitor: Salary.com lists School Monitor and the average salary for that position is $49,169.
- Informer: The equivalent for this job is something like a Library Researcher and this position pays an average salary of $31,105.
- Diagnostician: According to Tuten (2020), “Educational diagnosticians are experts on learning disabilities, teaching methods, and academic testing.” Ziprecruiter lists the average salary for this type of job as $77, 499 a year.
- Involver: This role translates best into community builder in my opinion, but the closest that salary.com offered was Community Organizer with an average salary of $39, 279.
- Planner: Salary.com lists Program Planner with an average salary of $65, 768.
So, in total, this suggests that a classroom teacher is worth $ 342,273. According to the National Education Association (NEA), here are few myths about teachers and the relevant facts:
FICTION: TEACHERS EARN AS MUCH AS COMPARABLE PROFESSIONALS FOR THE AMOUNT OF WORK THEY DO.
Fact: In our 2020 Rankings and Estimates, NEA found that the national average teacher salary is $63,645. Many have advanced degrees and have completed extensive coursework in learning theory and educational practice.
FICTION: TEACHERS ONLY WORK 6-7 HOURS PER DAY.
Fact: Teachers work longer than the contracted workday up to 10 hours a day in many cases.
FICTION: TEACHING IS EASY SO ANYONE CAN DO IT.
Fact: Teachers, like many professionals including accountants and engineers, are trained, certified professionals. They have college degrees plus teaching credentials. Many have advanced degrees and have completed extensive coursework in learning theory and educational practice.
For most, teaching is a calling. However, the intrinsic rewards of an educational career should not be used as a rationale for low salaries. In addition, harsh evaluation policies, worsening working conditions, and lack of professional support are pushing more teachers out of the profession. If school districts want their students to have the most professional teachers, they must pay a professional salary.
FICTION: TEACHERS ARE WELL PAID BECAUSE THEY HAVE SUMMERS OFF.
Fact: Teachers spend summers working second jobs, teaching summer school, or taking classes (that they pay for) to advance their careers.
Further, according to the Learning Policy Institute (cited by the NEA), almost 20% of teachers leave the profession because of low pay. Teachers, like other professionals, want to be valued and appreciated for what they do. It is not fair or reasonable to say that teachers who want to be paid what they are actually worth do not ‘care’ about their students.
Rather, think about how much better the quality or their teaching if they were not worrying about making ends meet while “Educators make 81 cents on the dollar compared to their professionals with similar experience and credentials.(NEA) Additionally, “Of the $560 the average teacher will spend this year, according to the survey, they will use only $78 for pencils, paper, and tissues. Prizes, snacks, décor, cleaning supplies, and instructional resources make up the rest.” (Stoops, 2022).
Therefore, in the end, teachers and housewives not only share many of the same roles and responsibilities, but face similar levels of disbelief or even contempt when they advocate for better conditions as well as appreciation for what they actually do. It is no wonder marriage rates have steadily declined over time (although 2022 appears to be an exception according to CBS). Or that many are choosing not to become full time teachers or are quitting the profession when working conditions are getting worse and salaries are nowhere near where they should be across the board. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data (discussed in Aldeman, 2021):
Layoffs in public education rose 57% from 2019 to 2020; voluntary “quits” rose 16%; and “other” separations (including death, disability, and retirement) rose 53%…. [or in other words,] layoffs represented about one-third of the total job losses in public education in 2020; higher employee turnover in the form of voluntary “quits” and death, disability, and retirement contributed another third; and the slowdown in hiring accounted for the final third.
This bodes poorly for the future of the teaching profession, as well as for those who spend 12 years or more as its consumers; namely the students themselves.
Aldeman, C .(2021). During the pandemic, ‘lost’ education jobs aren’t what they
seem. Brookings Education, Brown Center Chalkboard.
Cambridge TKT (2019). The Roles of the Teacher, Module 3.
CBS. (2022). More people getting married in 2022.
Diem, V. (2015) Assessing the value of a housewife.
Harrison, C. & Killion, J. (2007). Ten Roles for Teacher Leaders. (Vol, 65, No.1). ASCD.
NEA. (2018). Teacher Compensation: Fact vs. Fiction.
Stoops, Dr. T. (2022). How Much Do Teachers Spend on School Supplies in 2022?
Tutten, T. (2020). What is an Educational Diagnostician? Job Role, Salary & More.