Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Educational Documentary: American Teacher

This is another documentary about education that should be coming out this year.  This one, American Teacher, does not focus on the next "revolution" that is supposed to save American education.  Rather, this one looks at the everyday, average teachers--the impact they have can on our children, and how relatively little they are compensated for it.

American Teacher is an outgrowth of The Teacher Salary Project, which is itself an outgrowth of the book,   Teachers Have It Easy:  The Big Sacrifices and Small Salaries of America's Teachers, by Dave Eggers, Ninive Clements Calegari, and Daniel Moulthrop.   The book and the movie both tell the tales of how much good teachers have to give of themselves to do what should be one of the most important jobs in our society--educating our children.

Here are some eye-opening statistics from the website:

  • 92.4% of teachers spent there own money to buy educational supplies (2007-2008)
  • 62% of teachers work at second jobs outside the classroom, EVEN THOUGH
  • The average workday for teachers is 10 hour per day
  • Only 4.7 percent of college juniors say they would considering teaching as a profession at the current salary level
  • In 1970, the average difference in starting salaries in New York City between lawyers and teachers was $2,000.  In 201, the difference between the two professions averages out to first-year lawyers making about $115,000 more than first-year teachers.
  • 46% of public school teachers quit teaching within five years

I haven't seen the movie, but it sounds like a breath of fresh air after so many documentaries, policies, and high-profile educators who act like teachers are the enemy.  On the contrary, of the teachers I know personally, they are some of the most committed, overworked, underpaid, and underappreciated people I know.

The movie has been previewed in Washington DC and New York City, but there is no news about the date of its release or the places that will hold screenings.  However, you can sign up for their mailing list to receive notice if it is coming to a place near you.

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