Bruce Tracy: Pay me like a babysitter

By Signal Contributor

Last update: Wednesday, December 6th, 2017

A while back, my wife and I were sitting at a restaurant eating dinner when we overheard three fairly obnoxious 20-somethings sitting in the next booth discussing the educational system.

At one point, the loudest of the group mentioned that teachers are really just overpriced babysitters and should get paid like a babysitter.

Well, that got me to thinking. According to a survey on Care.com, the average hourly rate for a babysitter in 2016 was $13.97 an hour. Since I also provide tutoring, I figure I can move my rate up to $15 an hour.

My average class size is 32 students, so if I charge each parent $15, that would be a total of $480 an hour. I teach five periods a day, so that would be a daily pay rate of $2,400, and since I teach 180 days a year, my yearly salary would be $432,000.

No, my obnoxious restaurant neighbors, I don’t get paid like a babysitter.

This group also implied that teaching is an easy job. I was tempted to pull up a chair and do some role-playing with them. Imagine inviting 32 12- year-olds into a room slightly bigger than your living room and having to keep their full attention for the next hour.

OK, that is too easy, so let’s throw in a couple of curves. Twelve of those kids have 504 plans that require special seating. Six have Individual Educational Plans that require modified instruction (no two will be the same). Two kids will have diabetes, one will have bladder issues, seven will be struggling with emotional problems, one will have a hearing impediment which requires the teacher to wear a special microphone, and 33 will have been diagnosed with ADD (of course that number includes the teacher).

At the end of the hour you will need to run next door to use the restroom, but don’t be too long because the next group of 32 will arrive in five minutes.

If you can, try to hold it until lunch because you will then have a glorious 35 minutes for a real bathroom break, some time to catch students up who were absent, and eat lunch.

At the end of the day you will need to plan instruction for the following morning, make copies and start grading those 130 (two pages each and poorly written). Of course, that will all have to wait until you finish that after-school parent conference.

No, this job is not easy … so why do we do it?
Because :

Once a week or so, a kid might scream your name across campus and run 40 yards just to give you a fist bump before you drive home for the day.

Just maybe a girl you nicknamed the Poetry Queen because she wrote good couplets as a 12-year-old will send you an autographed copy of a book of poetry she had published in college. In the inscription of the book, she might just thank you for the nickname and the motivation.

Just possibly, you might run into a former student who is all grown up and she will tell you that you saved her life with all of your “moral” speeches back in junior high that convinced her to stay off drugs when all of her friends were caving in to the peer pressure.

Maybe one day you will be filled with pride as you get to observe a former student teaching her very own English class at your very own junior high school.

There is even a chance that when Christmas rolls around, you just might take home a pile of Christmas cards with hand-written notes telling you specifically why you matter to each of your students.

So at the end of each day, after I close my eyes and thank God for providing me with the absolute best job on the planet, I sleep knowing that the next day I get to wake up with the hope of possibly getting to make a positive impact on someone else’s life.

So is this job easy? No, but nothing in life that brings this much satisfaction ever is.

Still, feel free to pay me like a babysitter.

Bruce Tracy is a Castaic resident.

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Bruce Tracy: Pay me like a babysitter

A while back, my wife and I were sitting at a restaurant eating dinner when we overheard three fairly obnoxious 20-somethings sitting in the next booth discussing the educational system.

At one point, the loudest of the group mentioned that teachers are really just overpriced babysitters and should get paid like a babysitter.

Well, that got me to thinking. According to a survey on Care.com, the average hourly rate for a babysitter in 2016 was $13.97 an hour. Since I also provide tutoring, I figure I can move my rate up to $15 an hour.

My average class size is 32 students, so if I charge each parent $15, that would be a total of $480 an hour. I teach five periods a day, so that would be a daily pay rate of $2,400, and since I teach 180 days a year, my yearly salary would be $432,000.

No, my obnoxious restaurant neighbors, I don’t get paid like a babysitter.

This group also implied that teaching is an easy job. I was tempted to pull up a chair and do some role-playing with them. Imagine inviting 32 12- year-olds into a room slightly bigger than your living room and having to keep their full attention for the next hour.

OK, that is too easy, so let’s throw in a couple of curves. Twelve of those kids have 504 plans that require special seating. Six have Individual Educational Plans that require modified instruction (no two will be the same). Two kids will have diabetes, one will have bladder issues, seven will be struggling with emotional problems, one will have a hearing impediment which requires the teacher to wear a special microphone, and 33 will have been diagnosed with ADD (of course that number includes the teacher).

At the end of the hour you will need to run next door to use the restroom, but don’t be too long because the next group of 32 will arrive in five minutes.

If you can, try to hold it until lunch because you will then have a glorious 35 minutes for a real bathroom break, some time to catch students up who were absent, and eat lunch.

At the end of the day you will need to plan instruction for the following morning, make copies and start grading those 130 (two pages each and poorly written). Of course, that will all have to wait until you finish that after-school parent conference.

No, this job is not easy … so why do we do it?
Because :

Once a week or so, a kid might scream your name across campus and run 40 yards just to give you a fist bump before you drive home for the day.

Just maybe a girl you nicknamed the Poetry Queen because she wrote good couplets as a 12-year-old will send you an autographed copy of a book of poetry she had published in college. In the inscription of the book, she might just thank you for the nickname and the motivation.

Just possibly, you might run into a former student who is all grown up and she will tell you that you saved her life with all of your “moral” speeches back in junior high that convinced her to stay off drugs when all of her friends were caving in to the peer pressure.

Maybe one day you will be filled with pride as you get to observe a former student teaching her very own English class at your very own junior high school.

There is even a chance that when Christmas rolls around, you just might take home a pile of Christmas cards with hand-written notes telling you specifically why you matter to each of your students.

So at the end of each day, after I close my eyes and thank God for providing me with the absolute best job on the planet, I sleep knowing that the next day I get to wake up with the hope of possibly getting to make a positive impact on someone else’s life.

So is this job easy? No, but nothing in life that brings this much satisfaction ever is.

Still, feel free to pay me like a babysitter.

Bruce Tracy is a Castaic resident.

About the author

Signal Contributor

Signal Contributor

  • Gil Mertz

    Bravo Mr. Tracy!!! Thank you for your commitment and sacrifice. I don’t know the author but here’s a great reading that is dedicated to all of you heroes who teach in public school:

    Let me see if I’ve got this right. You want me to go into that room with all those kids and fill their every waking moment with a love for learning. Not only that, I’m to instill a sense of pride in their ethnicity, behaviorally modify disruptive behavior, observe them for signs of abuse and T-shirt messages.

    I am to fight the war on drugs and sexually transmitted diseases, check their backpacks for guns and raise their self-esteem. I’m to teach them patriotism, good citizenship, sportsmanship and fair play, how and where to register to vote, how to balance a checkbook and how to apply for a job.

    I am to check their heads occasionally for lice, maintain a safe environment, recognize signs of potential anti-social behavior, offer advice, write letters of recommendation for student employment and scholarships, and encourage respect for the cultural diversity of others.

    I am to decide who might be potentially dangerous and/or liable to commit crimes in school or who is possibly being abused, and I can be
    sent to jail for not mentioning these suspicions. I am expected to make sure that all of the students with handicaps are guaranteed a free and equal education, regardless of their mental or physical handicap. I am to communicate frequently with each student’s parent by letter, phone, newsletter and grade card. I’m to do all of this with just a piece of chalk, a computer, a few books, a bulletin board, a 45 minute plan time and a big smile, all on a starting salary that qualifies my family for food stamps in many states.

    And you want me to do all of this and expect me NOT to pray?

    • Bruce

      Thank you Gil!

  • lois eisenberg

    “Bruce Tracy: Pay me like a babysitter”
    Bravo to you Bruce in praise of your dedication,compassion, empathy, ethics and fortitude !!
    If I was one of your students I would run 80 yards across campus not to give you a fist bump
    but to give you a hug, and if I was a parent of one of those kids that are in your class I also
    would give you a very big hug !!
    Bless you Bruce and bless all the teachers of your caliber!!!

    • Bruce

      Thank you Lois … very much appreciated!

  • Brian Richards

    I looked up your compensation package Mr. Tracy. Suffice it to say I don’t know too many babysitters making what you make not to mention getting as much off time as teachers get. Not too sure about what the pension is for babysitters, but it’s probably not as good as yours. It would be nice, just once, for a public sector employee to say thank you instead of complaining about how hard their job is.
    .
    https://transparentcalifornia.com/

    • Anthony Breznican

      Mr. Tracy — you’ve got a good sense of humor, and I enjoyed this column a lot. My kids are the beneficiaries of great teachers, and I agree that educators should be highly compensated for their tireless work.

      Teacher salaries may be public record, but I consider it an invasion of your privacy to look that up. I’m guessing that after many years as an educator you make a comfortable but not extravagant middle-class income. You deserve that and more. You certainly don’t deserve any bitterness.

      It is the public who owes you thanks. So thank you.

      • Brian Richards

        If it’s an invasion of privacy, why is it a matter of public record? I though you liberal types believed in accountability and transparency? You may also note that I didn’t mention his competence, but if someone is going to author a letter complaining about some knuckleheads he overheard in restaurant, he should be prepared for some pushback. Besides, most people whose work is “tireless” don’t get 185 days off a year. Perhaps you should reset your privacy bar as it seems absurdly low.

        • Anthony Breznican

          Yes, how dare he express a lighthearted opinion without expecting some random internet commenter to look up his salary and post a link so others can find it. That’s not strange behavior at all!

          • Brian Richards

            Every person working for the public in CA has their salary posted, as it should be. Also, every person drawing a pension is also listed. It’s called transparency and I’m pretty sure it’s the law that public sector costs shall be disclosed. You should see what they’re making at COC. And finally, strange behavior is having a blog, a website, and a substantial presence on the internet and then complaining about it when someone views it.

          • Brian Richards

            From the website Transparent California:
            .
            “The public has a right to see this information, because government officials work for the public. As the California Public Records Act states, the Legislature “finds and declares that access to information concerning the conduct of the people’s business is a fundamental and necessary right of every person in this state.”

            Transparency is necessary to prevent fraud, waste and abuse. Just as important, transparency is needed to provide citizens and policymakers the facts they need to make informed decisions about the numerous public policy issues involving government employee and retiree compensation.”
            .
            I thought you lefties supported this kind of thing?

      • Brian Richards

        If it’s an invasion of privacy, why is it a matter of public record? I though you liberal types believed in accountability and transparency? You may also note that I didn’t mention his competence, but if someone is going to author a letter complaining about some knuckleheads he overheard in restaurant, he should be prepared for some pushback. Besides, most people whose work is “tireless” don’t get 185 days off a year. Perhaps you should reset your privacy bar as it seems absurdly low.

      • Bruce

        Thank you Anthony – I am glad you enjoyed the article.

        • Anthony Breznican

          Totally. And … ARE you available for babysitting? 🙂

    • lois eisenberg

      The insensitivity from the above poster !!!

    • Bruce

      I think you missed my point Mr. Richards. Pointing out that it is not easy work is by no means complaining. I would never complain about a job I love this much, and I would never want to work an easy job. There is no satisfaction in that.

      • Brian Richards

        And yet you spent 5 paragraphs detailing negatives about your job? Some might think that’s complaining. Look, I have a lot of experience with teachers having two kids go through and currently in the system. The VAST majority of them are good people doing a good job under difficult conditions. I’ve encountered a couple stinkers, but only rarely. If you’re a good teacher and I assume you are, I have ZERO problem with what you make. In fact, I would support higher pay if you and your brethren would embrace performance based pay instead of tenured based pay. If I thought you were complaining about what you make because of what you overheard and that’s wasn’t your intent, then I stand corrected.