I think in this discussion, "Overworked" means "Underpaid" and the vast majority of "teacher" discussions and arguments are in regard to pay, or benefits. When have you ever seen teachers strike because the curriculum is wrong? Certainly, there are jobs that pay more, and less, than teaching. But salary is not based on ideology, it is based on economics. It is based on what people are willing to pay and what people are willing to work for and there are many factors in that equation. One important factor is results, not possible results, actual results. No matter how good a teacher you are your results are limited by conditions entirely out of your control, like poverty and unfocused or disruptive students. And even if your academic results are good, there are also the economic results. Do you think that medical school would be as expensive as it is if the average salary for a doctor was $30,000 a year? GS mentioned the pay for teachers in india, but how can they raise the pay for teachers in india if there are limited economic opportunities for the students who will be the future taxpayers.
When you review education country by country it seems that there are basic economic forces that set teacher pay and a variety of systems to deal with this reality. In Norway, the teacher union seems to be content with reduced hours for which they accept a below average pay. Kindergarten is offered in Norway but it is not free. I suspect some of these teachers make a little extra money teaching kindergarten. Also, pre and after care is not free and with the shortened school day I suspect there is a market there as well. In Japan, high school is not free, and thus affects the economics of teaching there as well. But the world over, teaching does not be the most lucrative profession in terms of salary.
I have talked to older teachers (here) and they claim that the economics of teaching was better 30 years ago than it is now. In other words, inflation has advanced faster than teacher salaries. I tend to believe them and attribute this to repurposing of public schools from education to social engineering. Paul complains of disruptive behavior, with good reason, but since the 70's schools have been tasked by law to deal with behavior, all kinds. Paul mentions sports and again, by law they have been tasked to deal with equal sports, not less sports. They have been tasked with making school more equal in result, not less, and we have seen the impact this has had. And by result they mean Algebra 2, not a productive life.
Evidently, there is a limit to the ROI (return on investment) with teaching. Your students go on to make X dollars from which they pay taxes to fund future education. Is it no wonder then that average teacher pay would then fall around average pay? Economically speaking, wouldn't the valuation of teaching be similar to the economic result of teaching?
It seems that this is the case the world over and the only real choice we have with public teachers is with the quality of their day, not their financial rewards.
Is it that they're overworked or worked in the wrong ways?