The devaluation of teachers

The single most irritating thing about being a teacher is that our wider culture has an idea that teachers are “givers,” and we’re expected to give of ourselves for free.

I am constantly asked to read a script, find someone a monologue, give them some advice, watch their reel and give them feedback and put in hours coaching them for performances FOR FREE.  People actually are surprised when I say there is a fee for what I do.

I think about our public school teachers who are also expected to teach for low wages from the generosity of their hearts without regard to the fact that good teachers are professionals.  That their jobs are important.  And when you devalue them or want cheaply paid teachers, you get what you pay for.

The devaluation of teachers has been going on for a long, long time and it has doomed America.  Teachers have come to be known as mediocre at their craft – we’re seen as nice people who are willing to take a low wage because we love our students so much.

Nonsense.  The best among us have worked hard for decades to become experts in what we do.  Our salaries should match that.

So if you’re an actor know this.  You really offend your teachers, your directors - anyone who has something that you expect them to do for free.  You don’t expect doctors to look at your xrays for free.  You don’t expect lawyers to give you advice for free. 

And while I’m on my virtual soapbox, if you require a reference letter please behave professionally.  The person writing the letter should not be expected to figure out where to send it.  They should not be expected to pay for the stamp much less international expedited mailing services to get it to the institution on time.  You should be offering to reimburse them for that upfront.  And you MUST ALWAYS acknowledge the favor with something more than a one-line email that says “Thx.”  I have even had an actress who I did all of that for who didn’t even send that 3-letter email to me at the end.

Teachers are not surrogate mothers who do all of this for you simply for the joy it brings them.  Learn this now!