One of the blogs I read daily is written by a real education reformer, Diane Ravitch. Today she cited an article in Huffington Post that describes a teacher shortage in Kansas and what caused it. Many conservatives and pseudo-education reformers (Michelle Rhee, Campbell Brown, Secretary Duncan) argue that education promote choice through charter schools. They point to unions as a cause of poor education outcomes.
What’s happening in Kansas tells a different story. Teacher pay in the state is low, hours are longer, and the legislature has made it easier to fire teachers. The result is exactly what any sane person would expect. Teachers are retiring as soon as they can. Others are changing careers, and college students are choosing majors other than Education. Schools will be forced to rely on substitutes to cover classes.
In the past, I’ve asked who will want to teach if the pay is low, there is no union protection, and working conditions are poor. Market forces work in career choices just as they do in purchasing. If teaching is a difficult and disrespected profession, fewer and fewer people will pursue careers as teachers. Kansas proves this point. I expect we’ll hear similar stories from other states very soon.
When many people hear networking, they only think about finding a new job. In reality, networking is a great way to manage your career and help others manage theirs. One way that network contacts can be resources that enable us learn more about salaries and benefits offered by potential employers.
My clients in nursing often are the best informed about what employers offer. They work together at different hospitals, and they share information, which enables nurses to make better decisions about where to look for work. They also tell each other which employers treat their workers well and badly.
How can you obtain similar information? Get involved in industry associations and groups. Meet people at networking events and talk to them about their careers as much as you talk about your own. As people in networks become comfortable and trust each other, they start to share very important information. Get to know people who can help you get the information you need to make good career choices.