For the Love of Children, Not the Pay

By: Jonathan Spielmann ’18

They taught you how to read, write in cursive, add, and subtract. They gave you advice on how to write your first paper that you will never forget, they were there for you to talk about your favorite teachers, and the ones you loathed. They signed a contract to educate classrooms for seven hours a day, but in fact do much more than that. Changing lives is what they do on a daily basis.

You will find them at schools: an hour before it begins, throughout the day, late through the evenings, and on the weekends.

Their salaries are jaw dropping:

Elementary School Teachers Middle School Teachers High School Teachers
$43,743 $45,982 $47,945

Teachers in America do not earn enough money for the roles they provide to the public.

I believe teachers have the most important job in the world. More important than the President, any Military General, or a Doctor. Without teachers, none of the previously noted professions would be what they are. Teachers give you basic principles of life. We take for granted a lot of things teachers have taught us: Learning how to share, be respectful, think critically, and be organized.

On average, children learn how to read between kindergarten and second grade, so without the help of teachers you could not read this article.

Teachers as well as other faculty deserve to be paid more because they do so much that is not required by them. Amy McKee, a school counselor at Fredrickson Elementary, often reaches into her own funds to buy resources for children.

“I’ve been given a $100 annual budget from the school,” McKee said. “I spend around $150 a month on the students.”

This price tag includes prizes for a student of the week celebration, extra supplies for those who are lacking, and a variety small snacks for children who do not know when their next meal is. She is not the only counselor who does this. Many faculty members will pay out of pocket for necessities in their classrooms.

Doing extra things such as buying rewards for students make them feel welcomed and appreciated in an environment that is stigmatized as non-enjoyable.

An alarming realization is that more and more people do not want to become teachers, and it may have to do with salary. Pay is a large contribution when deciding what career field to approach. All three of those salaries above, combined ($137,670), only equal 80 percent of what a family physician makes ($170,954). Many teachers will explain they “did not get into teaching for the pay, but to change the lives of students.” Unfortunately, you cannot pay a mortgage, cell phone bill, or car insurance with the “lives you’ve changed”.

The official nationwide Teacher Shortage Area list describes, by state, what subjects are experiencing teacher shortages. And the comparisons within many states tells a disturbing story: growing teacher shortages in key subjects. In Washington state from 1990-1991 through 1992-1993, the only subject where teacher shortage was prevalent was Special Education (K-12). From 2014-2016, 17 subjects or disciplines experienced shortages from including Mathematics, Science, and School Psychologists.

So what does this mean? Slowly, we are losing our teachers. Less teachers equal larger classroom sizes. Larger classroom sizes equal a reduced chance that a teacher will develop a relationship with a student to support them and strive to be their best.

“Well why should we pay teachers more? They get the ENTIRE summer off!”

That argument is wrong—let me tell you why:  Teachers and faculty spend summers teaching summer school, taking classes for certification renewal or to advance their careers, or even second jobs to afford a basic lifestyle.

School begins in late August or early September, but teachers and faculty are back before the start of school and are busy stocking supplies, setting up their classrooms, and preparing for the year’s curriculum. They laugh at your misconception of them drinking Mai Tai’s on a secluded island on “Summer Vacation”.

What can you do to help: If able to, buying extra school supplies and donating them to the teachers/school. Make them feel appreciated. They might not be the President, a Doctor, or Military General, but teachers lay the stepping stones down so those titles can be filled. With everything they’ve taught us, the least we could do is pay them more.




Categories: Other

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