I have to agree with Glen Reynolds that this is an awesome quote, from  a member of the teacher's union in Denver:

That’s your problem. You’re an entrepreneur, so you don’t work. You don’t know what work is until you get into an educational area.

Yep, some day I will have to stop loafing around and take on a brutal assistant principal job somewhere.  All I have to worry about is that every dollar I own (and more) is invested in my business and could disappear at any time if I make a mistake.  Thank God I don't have to sit around all day worrying whether the doctor that hands out no-questions-asked disability rulings will still be practicing when I am 45 and ready to retire.

I call this the "Dallas / Dynasty" perception of business, that businessmen just grab a phone call or two, go to a power lunch, and then head home to the mansion.

Update: Apparently this is a common misconception about entrepeneurs

The average number of working hours per week of a successful starting entrepreneur is seventy. This catches the typical American dreamer by surprise.

The teacher day:

Nor do teachers spend all of their time at school in the classroom. In fact, teachers spend fewer hours actually instructing students than many recognize. Stanford's Terry Moe worked with data straight from the nation's largest teacher union's own data - and found that the average teacher in a department setting (that is, where students have different teachers for different subjects) was in the classroom for fewer than 3.9 hours out of the 7.3 hours at school each day.

With several hours set aside at school for course-planning and grading, it strains plausibility that on average teachers must spend more hours working at home than do other professionals.

Not to mention, of course, summer vacation, Christmas break, spring break, fall break.... Oh, and the fact that they have lifetime job security because in public schools they can't be fired for even the most egregious incompetance


  1. perlhaqr:

    Oh, and the fact that they have lifetime job security because in public schools they can’t be fired for even the most egregious incompetance

    Or even for molesting their charges, half the time.

  2. IgotBupkis, President, United Anarchist Society:

    > The average number of working hours per week of a successful starting entrepreneur is seventy. This catches the typical American dreamer by surprise.

    Yeah, spinning the wheel for winning life's lottery is more work than most realize...


    I generally don't begrudge those with six-figure salaries their pay -- most of them get it by working sixty and seventy hour work weeks.

    Now, Trust Fund kiddies with nothing to do but Dangerous Liasons-style intrigues, them, I'm not a big fan of.

  3. dr kill:

    I generally don’t begrudge those with six-figure salaries their pay —

    My misguided friend, envy will kill you more quickly than ObamaCare. If your chosen lifestyle require more funding, might I suggest a second job?

  4. knocko:

    "Christmas break"? Did you take notes on a hand held slate? More likely, the time off between semesters is a "Solstice Interim". And here in New York we take a week off in February. I think this was started in the 1970's to conserve fuel. Jimmy Carter's wan footprint.

  5. Tom Kelly:

    I am an entrepreneur who has been involved in 10 start ups as either the principal or another lead position. In mid-career I mistakenly thought there would be opportunity in the education market, as school choice was gaining some momentum. I worked as a teacher and administrator for 5 years, one year in inner city public school and 4 years in suburban private schools. After the first three months and getting the routine down, I found teaching to be one of the least stressful jobs I've done. Short work days, lots of time off, and usually nothing to bring home as they was lots of planning time and grading time during the day. I got bored pretty quick and pushed for an administrative job.

    Being an administrator in a private school on the other hand is probably the hardest job I've ever done. You try to do what your state financed competitors do, only with relatively no money. Everyone is pulling you every which way- teachers, parents, other administrators, and numerous outside influences. My position was basically COO.

    In my experience, there is no comparison between the entrepreneur's work and the teacher's work, even when they work in the same school. Running a school, or a business, is extremely difficult work that few can handle. Just about any reasonable educated person can be taught to teach, though few teach really well.

  6. DMac:

    @knocko: Michigan also has a week long "Presidents Day" break. I assumed it was a nod to the ski industry, to get a last revenue surge late in the season. Didn't know of Jimmah's fuel savings initiative. Any bets on the teacher to entrepreneur ratio on the slopes that week? No such thing as paid days off when you are the one doing the paying.

  7. TJIC:

    Yeah, I probably worked 70+ hrs/week for the first few years of launching my firms.

    These days it's more like 40, and I feel like a real slacker.

    Occasionally an hourly employee will note that I'm leaving the office after a grueling 4 hour day.

    I casually mention that they should check the emails I sent, and the software commit logs - I was probably in the office past 1am the night before.

  8. dster:

    Tjic, if one of my employees "noted" that about me, I'd fire their @$$. I write their checks. Their job is to work, not opined about my schedule ... the average employee doesn't have a fricking clue about how the world works and value gets created.

  9. Reformed Republican:

    I think summer vacation is one of the big overlooked perks when people talk about teacher pay. Typically, to get 4 months vacation every year, you have to work in Europe.

  10. Geoff:

    I always wondered where my son got the line "You’re an entrepreneur, so you don’t work" from! I guess the only time I wasn't working was when I was with the kids!
    Oh and he's about to start training to be a teacher :-)

  11. Mark:

    I will repeat it again, the three biggest myths about education:

    1. Teachers are overworked and underpaid.
    2. Teachers sacrifice for the kids.
    3. Whatever the NEA endorses is good for children.

    THe vast majority of people believe all three of these myths, although that may be changing.

    One last point that I have brought up earlier too. Today's teachers do very little "teaching". Almost everything they use is prepackaged. Study guides, problem sets, quizzes, tests, AND ANSWER KEYS. I have four children in school today, literally grades K-12, and I have never seen an original test or problem set from any of their teachers. The only thing that the teachers "teach" today is their liberal propaganda.

  12. Dan M:

    Reading your post it occured to me that if teachers are so underpaid they should be pushing privatizing education. Then they would be paid a real market rate for their services, which of course is far more than they make now. Right?

  13. Dr. T:

    For the 25 years of my marriage I have listened to my brother-in-law, a former president of his teachers' union, explain how hard public school teachers work: nine hours at school plus many evening and weekend hours at home grading papers and planning lessons. He parrots the NEA claim that the average teacher, though only working nine months a year, puts in as many hours as a chemist, computer programmer, engineer, medical technologist, and other professionals with Bachelor's or Master's degrees.

    The reality is totally different. The typical public school teacher arrives 20 minutes before the students. The school day is less than seven hours long. All teachers, of course, get lunch breaks. In the lower grades, teachers get breaks when their students have gym, library time, and computer lab time. In higher grades, teachers typically have one or two periods with no classes. In my daughter's school, most of the teachers make beelines to their vehicles as soon as the students have left the school. They use the same lesson plans for years. Many of their homework assignments, quizzes, and tests are from the textbook publishers or are available from other sources. Average work time per school day is less than seven hours. And, they work fewer than 200 days a year (versus 237 for other professionals).

  14. Rick:

    Let me say up front that my wife is a non-union teacher. She started college at age 39 with 3 kids at home just so she could be a teacher. She teaches for the love of teaching, not the money which here in Florida is less than $40K a year. When she is eligible to retire her income is projected to be about $1200.00 a month. We pay $700.00 a month for a middle of the road health policy through the school board.

    This morning she left home at 6 for the 15 minute ride to school which starts at 8:15. There were already about a dozen teachers there when she arrived. School ends at 3:30 but she didn't get home until 5:15 because she had to get her class ready for Monday.

    She comes in the door every night pulling a large rolling cart full of papers to grade and lessons plans to write up. Most nights I have to ask her to stop so we can go to bed. A typical weekend has her working on school stuff 8 to 10 hours. When I complain she says she is a real slacker compared to some of the other teachers she knows. She teaches second grade.

    Just like all people don't fit snugly into a mold neither do all teachers.

  15. Dan:

    I'm an engineer by training, but I taught high school science for 3 years when I was between engineering jobs. I taught 5 classes and supervised one study hall, 45 minutes each, "only" a 4 1/2 hour work day. Nobody but my family saw the hours I put in evenings and weekends. I voted with my feet and left teaching because I had never worked harder in my life, the salary was crummy, and it was frankly discouraging. (You don't get to pick your students - some kids are bright and motivated; they're fun to work with. Some kids have completely given up by age 14; they suck the life out of you. Most want to do just enough to pass.) Then there's the administration and the parents, but this has gotten too long already. If anyone thinks teaching is a piece of cake, give it a try, you might like it.

  16. sch:

    In Alabama, once beyond the probation, even committing a felony doesn't necessarily stop the paychecks from coming.
    Several incarcerated teachers have continued to collect their salaries. The explanation is that it takes considerable
    time to work through the process of termination, and it is not automatic despite arrest, charging, conviction and
    incarceration. There is also concern expressed over the 'families dependent on the teachers income'.

  17. Phil:

    If teaching is so easy, why do over half of all teachers last only less than five years?

  18. SO:

    There's a difference between lasting less than five years, and quitting due to boredom, monotony, and a generally repetitive and marginal work environment...

  19. Russ Finley:

    The definition of work comes into Watched a guy carry a full sheet of plywood up a ladder to a porch roof, and up another ladder to the second story roof the other day. That is what I call hard work. Depending on definition, there are a lot of entrepreneurs (and teachers) who have never worked hard in their lives, let alone five or six days a week.

    Every profession (from plumbers to physicians) strives to climb up on a pedestal. That's human nature. The idea that working long hours is something to be proud of and to strive for is ironic and self-contradicting, but understandable.

  20. Tim:

    It seems like it's good to be a teacher... Just hang out and get holidays, spring break, & Summer off! NICE!

  21. markm:

    Good teachers do put in lots of hours. Bad teachers don't. Most of them belong to a union that ensures bad teachers have job security and the same pay as good ones.

  22. Robert:

    If you want a really unremunerative and insecure teaching career, try being a college adjunct instructor.

  23. zaixiang:

    Teacher is a good career.Now it is also a good occupation.But to be a good teacher is not easy.