The article describes 826 Valencia, a pirate shop in San Francisco that is a front for a mysterious drop-in tutoring center. There is one in Brooklyn too -- in my backyard all this time and I never knew about it! The storefront is, apparently, a superhero supply store, but education goes on within.
The creator of 826 Valencia, David Eggers, has taken on teacher pay as a cause. He wrote another piece for the Guardian on teacher pay in the U.S., and at the end of the article there's this table comparing the average salaries of teachers in the U.S. and England:
Comparative studyAt first glance, U.S. teachers seem to be doing okay, at least comparatively. Their starting salaries are higher, and they have a smaller average class size in the early grades. But look at the number of contracted hours (even though it is safe to assume that teachers in both countries are working far more than that).
Starting salary for primary teacher
England: $28,608 USA: $30,339
Salary after 15 years for primary teacher
England: $41,807 USA: $ 43,999
Number of students per teacher primary
England: 20 USA: 15.5
Number of students per teacher secondary
England: 14.8 USA: 15.5
Contracted hours, full-time teacher primary
England: 1,265 USA: 1,353
Contracted hours, full-time teacher secondary
England: 1,265 USA: 1,371
Source: OECD Education at a Glance 2005. 2003 figures.
Bottom line is that in neither country are teachers paid what they should be. In Japan, average teacher salary is about $52,500 a year.
Anyway, if you haven't already, spend some time with the Guardian. There's just loads of stuff, from basic skills to the naked chef.