Google co-founder Sergey Brin knows how to pave the way for a smooth holiday season: Make sure your mother-in-law is invited to speak at a conference of "the nation's top thought leaders," sponsored by your company and some nonprofits.

Brin's mother-in-law Esther Wojcicki was among the speakers at the Breakthough Learning forum at Google last week co-sponsored the producers of Sesame Street, by the MacArthur Foundation and by Common Sense Media. She joined such fellow speakers as the chancellor of New York City schools, Apple's director of education and a Stanford education professor. If that weren't enough, Brin publicly declared Wojcicki, a Palo Alto High School English and Journalism teacher, to be under-appreciated, telling the LA Times,

"It's really a miserable job," he said. "They're not really paid a living wage."

Well, Palo Alto teachers make $51,000 to $104,000 per year, which in most other parts of the country would be considered a pretty decent salary. And then there are the fringe benefits, like board seats, consulting gigs and venture investments, that come from being married into Brin's inner circle. But Wojcicki was a 2002 teacher of the year for all of California, and got her student journalists at 2009 research award from the MacArthur Foundation. Surely there should be some kind of bonus for that, in the Palo Alto school district. People need incentives, after all, right?

(Wojcicki pic via Google)