I recently met a lawyer who quit her job after the birth of her third baby. If she had to do it again she told me she would become a teacher, despite the low salary and status. She wants a profession that allows her to spend time with her children.
There is a lot of talk of making teachers more “professional” by having them work longer hours and giving them more responsibility. Yet many women choose teaching because they see it as a way to combine career and family. It’s still a big commitment; they answer phone calls from parents and must take enrichment courses. They prepare for class and attend meetings. But teaching is still much more family-friendly than law or high-tech. You get to be home with your kids during vacations and even strikes (if your union is the one striking). You’re in an environment with other mothers who understand why you can’t come in when your child is sick.
The recent (so-far-unimplemented) Dovrat reform will put all children ages 3-18 in school until 4 (or was it 5?) PM, five days a week. What about the teachers, perhaps the majority, who hoped to spend their afternoons with their children? Not every family wants both parents to work such long hours. There is an inherent contradiction that must be addressed.
Teachers deserve a good salary and respect for doing an important, extremely difficult job. Let’s not forget the needs of their families as well.