Wednesday, October 05, 2005

"Their paychecks don't have lots of zeros... they're my friends, and they're my heroes..."

Song lyrics by Dar Williams.

Two friends over for dinner tonight, neither a teacher. Realized in the course of conversation something that I have realized before: I am the highest paid of all my close friends my age, all of whom are similar to me in terms of quality & quantity of education, and all of whom live in NYC or the SF Bay Area (not a cheap place to live). And compared to ALL my friends, not just my best friends, I still do pretty well.

They are...

a journalist doing on-line content & freelance work
the assistant to the middle school dean in a private school
a deckhand on a boat
the executive director of an arts organization
acting director of communications for an arts non-profit

I don't know how well my friend who went to law school & is now working for the city is doing.
My friends who will be doctors are still in school - and are interested in public health.
I think my friend who teaches private school makes more than I do, although I honestly don't know. He makes it sound like he does, but that's suspicious to me because most private schools pay less than the public schools. I do know for sure that he gets better perq's - his school pays for special PD experiences that I pay for out-of-pocket.

Many of these people have more comfortable offices and day-to-day working conditions, although they also work year-round. None of them work in fields where you start out at a low salary but end up making much, much more after ten years.

Those making more than I am...

financial analyst
research scientist
works for a bank that invests in companies

They all have pretty good working conditions in terms of clean offices, access to needed materials, etc. But the bankers can often be found at work at midnight and the stress-level of their jobs is intense. They get half-price Starbucks! But they have to travel for work. They have sweet health & dental plans & gym memberships, and more.

*****

I didn't write all this to say, oh we teachers are getting enough money and should quit complaining. It was just a reflection. There are many others whose work is, in my opinion, undervalued. I don't mean to start a thread about how society values work, supply/demand, hours, productivity, etc. What I know in my heart of hearts is that ALL of my friends are hardworking, good people, and many of them are in jobs that make this world a better place, and those tend to be the people who are paid the least.

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