Many of my family members are teachers. And so I hear many first hand accounts of the hell through which they go, day in and day out. I forget the numbers, but it's amazing the high percentage of adults who go through the whole process of getting their degree to become educators, and then after one year of teaching, turn their backs on the thankless occupation and choose to do something entirely different.
It's hard work and the pay is not great. Teachers know that going in. What the colleges and universities never seem to tell these future educators is that they will rarely be appreciated by their administrators or the parents of their students. In fact, my favorite quote from a recent USA Today article about teachers who blog is this: "As a teacher, I feel like people don't listen to me. Parents don't listen to me, politicians don't listen to me, the media doesn't listen to me — but everybody tries to tell me how to do my job."
The article is a beautiful and important read. All parents with children in the school system should read blogs like those mentioned so that they can get a sense of how hard these teachers work. If they don't teach for the money, then pay them in an all important alternative currency: gratitude.