Thursday, November 13, 2008

PhDs Unite

Bob Sacamano writes in regarding teachers:
granted, there are a ton of inputs affecting the education of our youth. and i have no idea how, if at all, unions have an effect. if i had to guess, i would agree with you in saying they don't. i will say this, the referenced article (on Rhee) in the referenced blog (andrew sullivan) is interesting. i think we should be paying our teachers more, regardless of unions. i don't know if a scheme to bribe teachers and undermine the union will work, however. but i digress. the reason i write is because of something a read a few days ago. it is about teaching, and i copied it below. it presents an interesting theory about the quality of teachers. in essence, it says that in the past 50 or whatever years, when more job opportunities opened up for women, the top women no longer aspired to be teachers but aspired to land those new opportunities as doctors, lawyers, etc. this exodus left a lower tier, to put it rudely, to teach our children. and with a lower quality of teacher, we get a lower quality of education. i have no idea if this is true, but since it is somewhat related to one of my own theories => the lack of $ teachers get paid means that, as a generalization, fewer "successful" college students will gravitate toward teaching and instead aim for other, higher paying positions. heck, it's even happening at the PhD level. Loser, sell-out grad students are leaving academia (or science altogether) to chase after higher paying positions in other fields.

Here's the article Bob references.
Two points. First, I agree that if teachers were paid more, there might be more competition for teacher spots and thus you'd end up with better teachers (George Will doesn't seem to understand this basic free market principle... he writes about it every now and again, so I'm sure it'll come up again). But I'm not sure if the idea that the Wall Street melt down will result in a flood of talented people entering the work force. Put another way, if these people were really all that talented, so many of them would not have been caught holding the bag whent he bubble burst.