[thought piece] The Price of Education

A couple nights ago, I contemplated my upcoming first shift at a local candy factory. I was, as usual when beginning a job, nervous. It is during these moments that I wonder what job would be most suitable for me. After teaching in a variety of positions in China for the past none years or so, I have come to believe that education is one career I can feel fulfilled in. This field of work, however, is difficult to enter with poor qualifications even if one’s experience is solid. Hence why I am currently in Canada studying – and working at a candy factory.

One option that came to mind that night was working as a homeschooling teacher for a family – or a small group of families… but how much would I charge?

Basic Costs

As a worker in Ontario, I am entitled to minimum wage – 14.50 an hour – regardless of my job type.

Given that I would probably be caring for the children from 8-3 or 8-4, I would at minimum be teaching 7 to 8 hours each day. This allotment of time would not include planning period or homework/assignment marking, which could go at least one hour everyday and 2 hours on Friday.

Let’s say I was with the kids from 8 to 4 Mon-Thurs and then remained till 5 to do marking etc everyday and till 6 on Fridays. This would give me a total of 46 hours.

14.50 x 46 = 667/week (net)

667 x 4 = 2,668/month (net)

Now holidays do happen. I imagine that a total of 3 weeks of holidays will take place between September and June.

So we can do a roundabout math here where we multiple the per month expense by 10 (for 10 months) and then minus 3 weeks worth of pay.

2,668 × 10 = 26,680 – 2001 = 24,679/school year

Does 24,679 for a year of school seem expensive to you? It definitely does feel expensive if you are paying that amount for a situation with an only child. On the other hand, do you want to pay that much money to the teacher who is dividing their attention between your child and a few others?

A Possible Compromise

One way to get around this problem would be to give the teacher a base pay, say, of $10. For each head, add 5. So with three kids, a teacher ought to be paid:

25/hr

1150/wk

4600/mth

4600 × 10 = 46,000 – 3450 = 42,550/school year for 3 kids (around 14,000 per kid)

That is still a lot of money. Especially when we realize that on top of paying the teacher, parents need to buy good curriculum, resources, and materials in order to enhance their child’s education. If the co-op group were to be held outside the room in a hall or building, then mortgage/rent and hydro would add to that as well. A lot of money paid out for private education.

In conclusion, education is costly. Still, although quite a few parents admit their little ones are devils, although quite a few tell me again and again they can’t control their kids, although many parents say they aren’t cut out for teaching children, they expect teachers to guide their children through the most important times of their life alongside 20 or 30 other kids. Thanks to costly living fees in most developed countries, “free” state education are usually preferred over private schools, whose costs are “too expensive”.

Yet, I wonder. Perhaps it is time for us to realize that the failure of our system lies not only in the outflow of ideological processes, poor curriculum creation and usage, or inadequately prepared teachers, but also overcrowded schools due to the systems inability to maintain the costly price for a good education. After all, lowering classroom sizes would require more teachers – an expensive prospect for an already overburdened, poorly managed institution. I can only ask, can the future come so cheaply? I think not.

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