Teachers can spend upward of $2,000 on their students. For example, my mother often comes home with stories about her students. Coming home from a job where 47% of the children are eligible for free lunch, she has several stories about the state of impoverished children’s homes. Wanting to help, she has spent hundreds of dollars on things like food and clothing for her 11 and 12-year-old students- on an already underpaid salary. She isn’t the only teacher who has done this. Similar stories happen every day to teachers all across America. If you combine this with taxes, mortgages, food bills and so on, those teachers are left with an unlivable wage. Teachers educate, inspire, and connect with future generations, and do so without recognition or good pay. With this in mind, teachers should be paid more.
The emotional difficulty of being a teacher should alone earn them more money. While it doesn’t always feel like it, teachers are on the students’ side from day one. The mental strain of building bonds with so many students is tough and it takes a certain type of person to be able to do it. Teachers have to deal with hundreds of students and with all sorts of problems every day. Teaching is like being a babysitter for over a hundred kids for over 40 hours a week while teaching. Being a teacher not only includes educating kids but also requires connecting with students. We interviewed Fayetteville High School teacher Anna Beaulieu to learn more about the emotional strain of teaching.
“Every year it’s a little bit different,” Beaulieu said, “but every student that you have in class, if you have 25 students, they’re coming from 25 different family lives. There are so many things that are going on.” Beaulieu commented that teachers can’t do their job well if they don’t know the students. “We’ve had students who have died during the school year in the past, and some of them whose parents have died, and that’s just something that brings in a different element into the classroom that I don’t know that you experience in some other professions.” Teachers connect with their students from the first time they meet until—in some cases—the end of their high school careers, or even after. The physical and emotional strain of being a teacher is higher than any other job out there and teachers still get paid very little.
Being a teacher is one of the most under-respected and underpaid jobs, the average salary docking in at around $50,000 before taxes. Not to mention that teachers have longer than a 40-hour workweek, often working around 12.1 hours of unpaid overtime a week. Educators can spend several hours after work, sometimes working late into the night on things like grading. They’re also expected to show up to their students’ events: everything from football games to robotics matches. A teacher’s workday isn’t just your average nine to five: teachers arrive at school at around seven in the morning and can leave as late as seven at night. Many jobs that pay more than teachers not only have shorter hours but also have less commitment. Teachers not only act as educators but also build bonds with students, as well as prepare them for success in the future.
In an article by Jason Richwine titled “Why We Shouldn’t Raise Teacher Pay,” Richwine writes that “[the teacher’s] argument starts with the observation that increasing pay reduces the number of job openings […] and increases the number of new applicants.”
To summarize Richwine’s article, if the salary of teachers were to be increased, fewer teachers would retire, and less qualified candidates would apply for teaching jobs. However, current teachers are earning barely enough to support a four-person family. According to CBS News, a two-parent, two-child family needs around $49,114 to cover only their basic needs, not to mention things like vacations, clothing, and entertainment. The average starting teacher salary is around $50,000 pretaxes. Another common reason for why teachers earn so little is because they get summers off. However, many teachers work during the summer to carry them until school starts again. Educators also have to go to training during the summers, which can take as much as four weeks. This generally leaves the teachers with a maximum of a few weeks off, which comes nowhere near the overtime hours they work during the school year.
There are several jobs that earn more than teachers that don’t involve kids. Jobs like butlers, food tasters, and even clowns earn more than the average teachers. Teachers should be reimbursed for the amount of work they do, as well as the things they must endure. Raising teachers’ salaries would ensure the quality of the future generation’s education and show teachers just how much they are appreciated and worth.