Seriously though, why should teachers be paid more than they already are? Don’t they already get decent salaries? Isn’t the job more accessible than most jobs anyway? How hard can it be to handle a few kids and teach them the same thing every day? And don’t teachers get accessible holidays when schools are closed, with long summer and winter vacations every year? If you are a teacher, you’ve probably come across these questions before. And we understand your frustration; it is hard to sit down and explain the problems of the teaching profession to someone who has never taught before, which is why we’ve come up with some strong arguments in favor of paying teachers more than they are produced in this article. While we don’t know what sort of impact this will have on the world, we hope this can convince people of our position and help them understand why teaching is one of the most underpaid professions in the world.
If teaching is such an underpaid profession, then why do so many people become teachers? There’s no point in slogging it out at a job that doesn’t pay someone as much as they feel would be a fair amount, is there? Well, the reason people become teachers is not just because of the pay. Teaching is a profession with some of the highest reported levels of job satisfaction, not just in America but across the whole world. Most teachers believe that their job makes the world a better place, and most people who become teachers love dealing with kids and contributing to their holistic development. It is indeed one of the essential jobs in society. Then why isn’t it reflected in the salaries that teachers are paid? There could be numerous reasons for that. Society values jobs that directly create wealth more than jobs that contribute to it in other ways. This is why a corporate career with similar working hours has higher pay than a job as a schoolteacher. Furthermore, teachers are primarily women, who are still not considered the primary breadwinners of their respective families, so it is considered okay to offer them slightly lower salaries. Also, several myths surround this profession, which unfortunately act as arguments against raising the pay for teachers. Let us take now take a look at some strong arguments in favor of paying teachers more:
- Teachers actually work over the summer. A widespread perception about teachers is that they get to take the summers off. Many a teacher has probably heard someone tell them how lucky they are to have a job that lets them relax during the whole summer, and then cheekily add that they wish their job were like that. While such a declaration might be innocent, this false idea about the profession is often peddled as an argument against raising teaching salaries. Why do teachers want a raise when they don’t work for a sizeable part of the year? But this is just not true. While a tiny section of teachers might be lucky enough to take their summers off, the majority of them are engaged in projects related to work while at home during summer as well, including drafting lesson plans, working on professional development, teaching summer schools, etc. sometimes, teachers are forced to work a second job during summer as the annual pay at their job is simply too low. Most teachers would argue that having such long summer vacations is unnecessary anyway. If the school could be extended year-round like most other developed nations, it would be beneficial for students and bust the myth of summer vacations for teachers and allow them to have proper conversations about increasing their salaries.
- Compared to other developed countries, American teachers are actually underpaid. American society has valued individual liberty more than anything else ever since its conception. And the most significant manifestation of personal freedom is in the creation of wealth. According to our leaders, there is nothing more honorable than contributing to the nation’s economy by creating jobs and amassing wealth in the process. While it is essential to create jobs and run the economy, sadly, in our zeal to become wealthy, we seem to have ignored other equally important roles that contribute to the building of our society. It is because of this social ideal that most Americans value corporate jobs more than teaching ones. ‘Teachers don’t contribute much, is the idea among many people, which is why it makes sense to them that they are paid less. But the truth is, American teachers are the most underpaid among all the developed countries in the world, even though they sometimes have to deal with the most challenging work. This actually puts us at a disadvantage to other developed nations, as overworked teachers teach our students. This leads out students to suffer in the long run.
- Teaching involves more than just teaching a class. A layman’s view of every profession is often used to justify the salaries they offer. For example, while the average person does not understand how brain surgery is done, they can easily say that it looks like a very complex and stressful process and that brain surgeons ought to be paid a good amount of money for doing that kind of work. Similarly, while the average person may not know what work a teacher usually does, they can see that a teacher teaches a class full of kids. While this may seem like an easy thing to do, and therefore leads many to assume that it’s fair to pay teachers whatever they are being produced at the moment, there is more to a teacher’s job than what meets the eye. The assumption that the job involves only what is happening inside the classroom is not valid. The classroom is like a stage where the final performance is being put up, and there is a tremendous amount of work that goes into preparing for that last performance, a different version of which is being put up every day. This work includes planning lessons, engaging in professional development, regularly meeting with parents of the students to discuss their academic progress and suggest methods to improve in case a student is lagging in class, meeting and deliberating with administrators, evaluating assignments, etc. furthermore, teachers are known to take their work home, more than any other professional. The bulk projects often force teachers to take some of them home to grade them, which is why their work continues even after school gets over for the day.
- Teachers often have to pay for their supplies. While there is no accurate solid number to refer to on this, it is estimated that teachers have to spend about $500 a year on average for their school supplies necessary for conducting classes. Private companies offer their employees office supplies for use in their work. Almost every other job supplies the tools required in their line of work to their professionals so that they can continue to work without having to worry about supplies. Unfortunately, this is not the case for teachers. Teachers are paid less than they should be anyway, and the additional financial burden of arranging for supplies acts as a severe detriment to motivation for the job. Often, when teachers cannot procure the necessary supplies in their capacities, they are forced to take classes for students without them, which hampers the quality of the education they receive, something that should be considered unthinkable in a developed country like America. The financial cost of these supplies should be borne directly by schools and district development boards, and by extension, local, state, and federal funds. Sadly, that is not the case, as aid cuts made during the 2008-2009 recession are somehow still in place, which does not make it mandatory for schools and public funds to provide school supplies. This forces teachers to pay out of their pocket to ensure that the education of their students is not compromised.
- Teaching is stressful. Very stressful. Anyone who has a teacher among their friends and family will be familiar with instances of them complaining about how difficult their job is, often in a humorous manner. The internet is full of memes and jokes about what teachers have to deal with almost every day, some of them made by teachers themselves. And while these may be jokes, these tend to happen in real life more often than not. Teachers tend to have a good sense of humor, as dealing with small children daily makes it necessary not to take things, including themselves, too seriously. However, just because teachers get used to the stress at their job over time or prefer to joke about it instead of complaining does not mean it doesn’t affect them. Teaching is such a stressful job that about half of all teachers quit their jobs within five years. The reasons for this phenomenon are many — classes are too full, the work-hours are too long, there is a massive load of extra-curricular work, and of course, the pay is too little. Teaching is the fourth most stressful job in America, which may not sound very bad until one hears that the people with the top three most stressful jobs are police officers, military personnel, and working parents. Imagine a teacher who is also a parent, maybe of more than one child; that person must live through hell.
- Teachers are under assault from more fronts than one. Of course, no one is going around threatening or beating up teachers for their job, but they are indeed under assault from many places, often places from where they should be getting support. Teachers constantly have to defend themselves from callous and unscrupulous politicians, misinformed parents, and the menace of broad stereotyping that doesn’t seem to go away. Even though real wages for teachers have consistently fallen over the years, they still need to deal with the notion of being paid for not doing enough work. Politicians love to blame teachers for low student scores and worsening overall student performance. It gives them an easy way out of a mess that is often created due to wrong policies drafted up by themselves. Parents, who obviously care about their kids and are anxious about their education, often buy into false narratives about teachers in their eagerness to see their children improve and call for strict action against them, without realizing that it is usually the teachers who are doing their best to see their children succeed. Constantly being faced with social, economic, and political negativity takes a heavy toll on teachers’ mental health, which compromises their ability to teach and ultimately ends up harming the students. To top it all off, teachers have to deal with all the undue criticism while being unfairly underpaid at the same time. This leaves only a few brave souls with thick skin and an unparalleled zeal to educate the next generation in the profession, still building up the next generation.
Even though teaching should be counted among the noblest professions globally, we do not pay our teachers enough in this country. Many people like to argue that corporate jobs should have high salaries to attract the best in talent and tenacity. The same argument should also apply to the teaching profession because they educate our children and effectively decide the future of our nation. Paying teachers well is good for our children, as this would ensure that they stay motivated to the job and have no financial troubles for it. Furthermore, simply bringing our teaching salaries up to match the OECD average would go a long way in attracting and retaining strong-minded individuals into the profession.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Are paid holidays a good way of incentivizing teaching as a profession?
Most teachers would be happy with a pay increase. Teachers already argue that students have too many holidays, and they do not mind putting in more hours at work if they are paid adequately.
- How do I become a teacher?
You need to have a degree in a particular subject and display a passion for teaching young students when you interview at a school.