Saturday, November 17, 2007

Child care

This article in the New York Times Magazine by Lisa Belkin, Knowing Noreen:

The relationship between a mother and the woman she hires to care for her children is filled with unspoken truths. The mother does not say out loud that she expects the nanny to have more patience, more time, more energy than she has for herself. The nanny does not say, in turn, that this is just a job, and that you cannot love a stranger's child as your own. The mother wants the nanny to give love, and the children to return that love - but not too much.

Yet while we consider the lives of our children to be priceless, we don't seem to act in the same way. We trust school bus drivers with their lives yet we don't pay the drivers accordingly. Likewise, the child caregivers more often than not earns not much more than minimum wage around $9 an hour. How much do their teachers earn and how much respect do we accord to the teachers? Is this a case where bad apples (drivers, teachers, child care workers) affects the expected quality of services received and so we adjust the amount we pay accordingly? If so, there either must be a lot of bad apples or a few bad apples that we weight very heavily.

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