- The Sad Truth about the Teacher Salary - November 12, 2021
- Three Tips on How to Create an Engaging Lesson Plan - November 10, 2021
- Want Happy Teachers and Students? Start with Relationship Building in the Classroom - August 18, 2021
- Words Can Stick With Students for a Lifetime: Part One - June 28, 2021
- The Power of Words in the Classroom: Part Two - June 25, 2021
- Teachers are the Real Superheroes - June 14, 2021
- English in America: Is English Really our "Official" Language in Schools? - May 26, 2021
- Elective Teachers Are Not Treated The Same...That Must Change - April 18, 2021
Teachers are Underpaid and Overworked
No one goes into teaching to get rich. Not with a teacher salary. You probably won’t see a teacher roll up to school in their Ferrari, Chanel bag in hand, strolling across the parking lot without a care in the world.
You are more likely to see a teacher hopping out of their used minivan, speed walking across the parking lot, trying to make it before the first bell. They would have a steaming cup of coffee in one hand (to give them energy after a long night of serving burgers), and a handful of papers in the other.
The reality is that many teachers work second jobs in order to pay the bills. With just their teacher's salary, they've been struggling to pay student loans, rent/ mortgage, and daily living expenses. Teachers are increasingly earning less income than other working professionals. In fact, the income gap between teachers and comparable college graduates has tripled since 1979. (In 1979 teachers earned 7.3% less and in 2018, 21.4 % less than other college graduates)
Teachers often Work Other Jobs to Pay the Bills
To make up for the low wages, there are many full-time teachers that work a second job in the evenings or on weekends. They are the waiters at your local restaurant. The cashiers at your favorite clothing store. They are the customer service representatives when you call your cable company with an issue.
For a short while, I was a teacher with a second job. I taught French during the day and poured cappuccinos at the end of the school day. When I got home from my job as a barista, I would spend what little time I had left to plan lessons or grade papers. I had to supplement my income to support myself.
Has the Importance of Teaching Been Understood?
I, like many teachers, have worked an additional job to pay the bills. The teacher salary just doesn't cut it. It is sad to say that this is a reality for too many teaching professionals. You start to wonder if the American public truly values the work that teachers do.
Why are teachers paid less than their peers? Why is it common for teachers to live paycheck to paycheck or to work a second job? I believe one answer is that society seems to have forgotten the true value of what we do as teachers.
Perhaps, in order to show the true value of what teachers do, we need to have an open conversation about education in our communities. What is the purpose of education? How does education help society? In what ways has the education system failed? What are our plans as educators moving forward? Conversation and clear communication is key to any lasting change.
I believe the first step in building relationships with our community is by being honest as to why we became educators. Most teachers that I know, myself included, became teachers because they wanted to make a difference. Teaching is a profession that can have a profound impact on future generations. Teachers have the privilege of inspiring and raising up the next generation of doctors, scientists, lawyers, entrepreneurs, and even presidents. If families knew that we truly had their child’s best interest at heart, and we teach so that they can create better futures for themselves and the world as a whole, perhaps then teachers will start to be valued for all that we do.
Teachers, Let's Talk about Pay
Now that more teachers are leaving education than ever before during the Great Resignation, it is even more critical that teachers start to speak out regarding the truths of being underpaid in the ever changing world of education. So, teachers, I urge you to speak out! What you do is important and invaluable. Your teacher salary should reflect that.
Politicians and policy makers, open your hearts to hear what teachers have to say. They are raising up and educating your children, grandchildren and the future. What price can you put on the future generation?