Im a frequent poster on a big popular internet forum full of brilliant, cynical, and wordy nerds. Recently I decided to cut back my participation, which required an announcement of sorts (it sounds weird but for the subforum in question it is common courtesy). A few days later, I got the following note from another poster, a guy Id gotten to know pretty well, despite the fact that we both think of each other by our anonymous nicknames and have never met.
Hey, just saw your post.
Thats a huge decision and Im really happy for you! Getting out of the software industry is something Ive contemplated many times as well, and teaching is one of the things Ive seriously considered (not math though!)
Financially its impossible for me right now. So Im quite jealous of you! Good luck. Youre one of my favorite [forums] people, and Im rooting for you.
This sentiment was actually reinforced by conversations I had in a chat room of the same set of internet friends. At least two other IT-industry types had considered similar moves. And remember that my boss (an uber-geek) commented hed always wanted to teach if only he won the lottery.
All of which leads me to wonder: is this perhaps one of those rare circumstances where throwing more money at the problem is EXACTLY what is called for? What if we just DOUBLED or TRIPLED salaries for public school teachers and invested enough money (read: HR personnel) in comprehensive performance reviews, the way private industry does? Wouldnt we suddenly see a significant percentage of the cream of the crop turning away from other high-paying jobs and becoming great teachers? I know rich suburbs often pay their teachers more, but its like 20% more, not %150. Why hasnt a town tried this yet? Theyd be the talk of the country and theyd get the best teachers in the state.
(Okay I know the answer lies in the stagnant intertia of institutions and the lack of political will to make any major change for any reason, but I still think this would actually work.)