If Special Education Is In Such Demand, Why Are Salaries So Low?

From the "The Government Does Not Have Enough Money To Serve <insert industry here> But May Be The Only One Who Can" category comes a story about special education positions in Cincinnati.

Kudos to Mr. Favors for pursuing such a personally rewarding job, but the cynic in me wonders how long he'll last. I don't know many people who are willing to incur school debt for advanced degrees, maintain certification, work long hours and work with some of the most challenging segments of society for $30,000 to $40,000 a year.

And it's not even the volume of work that seems like the worse part. The worst part seems to be the Dilbert-esque bureaucracy that permeates the public sector, and prevents simple ideas for improving process with limited resources from ever seeing the light of day.

One more thing about salaries: I often hear that such-and-such a position is underpaid. Well, jobs will continue to pay at a salary as long as there are people willing to work for it. The opposite reason is why professional athletes make so much money. I understand the very personally rewarding nature of education jobs, but I wonder how quickly (and painfully) a solution for teacher salaries would be found if suddenly no college graduates wanted to become teachers?
clipped from news.cincinnati.com

It's hard to persuade a college-educated man, especially a minority man, to make in the mid-$30,000 or so in salary for the first few years, said Harris. "The pay is all right, but it's not great like if they went into business," she said.

Then there's the paperwork - volumes of it that go along with each special education student. Jane Ackerson, the 35-year teaching veteran who mentored Favors last year, said she coaxed him through it last year.

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