Why Teachers Deserve Better Pay

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According to the report, “Estimated Average Annual Salary of Teachers in Public Elementary and Secondary School,” by the U.S. Department of Education in 2011, the average starting salary for a teacher in Missouri is a measly $29,857 (1). The average salary for all teachers across the U.S. is $51,673 (“Estimated Average Annual” 1). Teachers are the foundation of education for future politicians, government officials, teachers, lawyers and inventors. While being responsible for the future of these American citizens, teachers adapt to new rules and regulations.

Education is changing daily; teacher’s salaries have not been properly increased for the amount of work they do. The job description is becoming more wide as the years go by, and soon teachers will be known as more than educators, hopefully. Teachers now are role models, educators, and protectors for kids of all ages and seeing as teachers are doing all of these jobs, they deserve to be better compensated. Teachers are the backbone of society, by educating and molding children, protecting our future, coaching athletes, maintaining order, and serving the community, doing much more than many jobs available today. With growing class sizes, attacks on schools and more and more state tests being administered, teachers need to be rewarded for their hard work and dedication.

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Teachers are undervalued in society, thus making them seem replaceable, but in truth many teachers do much more than the average person knows. In the average week, teachers spend nearly fifteen hours working outside of school, putting the average teacher at around fifty-five hours a week. Fifty-five hours a week only for regular teachers, who do not coach or instruct after-school detention, meaning that those hours are spent grading homework, preparing lessons, practicing lessons and refreshing their memories on every subject they might teach (Hare 1).

The amount of dedication to this job is astonishing, and according to a study completed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics teachers are twenty-one percent more likely to work on Sundays, ten percent more likely to work at home, and five percent more likely to hold a second job than other professions. Teachers are hard-working, irreplaceable members of the work force who put in a lot of work knowing they are not being paid fairly, but for now they have the satisfaction that they are doing something good for the world.

There are many other jobs in which the employees are underpaid, such as policemen and firemen who put their lives on the line daily for the community, with low average salaries, teachers fall into this category. Teachers are required to go to school and earn a degree in either Education or in a specific field in which they plan to teach. A Missouri state minimum of a Bachelor’s Degree is required to be certified to teach, which is normally four years of college after high-school (“How to Become a Teacher” 1). After a teacher is certified and begins teaching, forty-three percent continue their education either through night classes, summer classes or online classes (1). Doing this allows them to become more knowledgeable, eligible for pay raises. Some districts or states pay for further education by teachers (1). Teachers with a Master’s Degree, in Missouri, on average make $1,700 dollars more a year, while those with a Doctorate earn $4,400 more a year (1). In some states and districts the pay increases are much more.

Some critics say that teachers do not deserve pay raises, such as Jason Richwine in a 2012 article on OpposingViews.com, “Do Teachers Deserve Huge Raises? Absolutely Not!” (1). Richwine says teachers will not become better, or teach better if they are paid more (“Do Teachers Deserve 1”). While increasing pay does not make a teacher better, it acts as an incentive to be better, and also corrects the demeanor of those teachers who believe they deserve more. Increasing the base salary of teachers would correct the low amount they earn now for the immense amount of work, hours, and dedication they put into their job daily. John Wilson, author of “Teachers Deserve Higher Salaries With Those Standards,” published in Education Week in late 2012, says: “According to the National Education Association’s Research Department, the most recent data show that teacher salaries increased about 30 percent from a decade ago.

When you factor in inflation, that increase plummets to 3.4 percent. Really, that is the value of teachers for the last 10 years!” (Wilson 1) This miniscule increase is insulting to all teachers. While teachers accept any increase that comes their way, it is astonishing that in ten years only a “3.4 percent” increase has come (1). That is a grand total of about $1200 dollars increase over ten years. Just simply not enough. Another benefit of raising teacher’s pay would be bringing in more graduating students. “If teaching salaries had been attractive when I went to college I would have gone into education without a doubt, as that was my first love,” said a thirty-five year old woman when asked if teacher’s deserved better pay (Silberman 1). Stu Silberman continues: “I wonder about the impact that talented woman would have had on students during the past decade had she pursued the profession she rejected because of the low salary. Again, as the Center for Public Education reports, “There is research that has shown that students of teachers who have greater academic ability–be it measured through SAT or ACT scores, GPA, IQ, tests of verbal ability, or selectivity of the college attended–perform better.” We lost this quality candidate from the field of teaching and continue to lose so many top students.

Clearly, we must reevaluate – immediately – how we compensate our teachers!” (1). With an increased base salary and more incentives, a teacher “talent-pool” would be created (Trotter 1). This would attract more students with better test scores, and GPA’s, with an end result of better teachers (1). While test scores and GPA’s aren’t everything in becoming a teacher, the teacher talent-pool would be stronger and more competitive (1). “In New York City, for example, 66,000 teachers have left their jobs…; with these losses, our children lose experienced, high quality teachers” says Andrew Biggs, co-author of “Are Teachers Overpaid? A Response to Critics” (1). Biggs, implying teachers are overpaid, says “salaries should be market-based. . . because based on the average teachers SAT and GRE scores, compared to other professions, teachers are over-paid.” An anonymous responder sarcastically wrote: “I look forward to Richwine and Biggs’ analysis of Fortune 500 CEO pay, member-of-Congress pay, lobbyist pay, investment banker pay, movie star pay, sports star pay, etc.

I’m sure all of their SAT and GRE scores will be as astronomical as their salaries.” (“Are Teachers Overpaid?” 1) “The new systems, a central achievement of the reform movement, generally rate teachers on a combination of student progress, including their test scores, and observations by principals” said Jenny Anderson in a column, “Curious Grade for Teachers: Nearly All Pass,” published in The New York Times in March 2013 (1).

There are teachers, who have been taken off course in their jobs by the low pay, long days, and amount of stress that deserve what they make now but with good intentions and incentives they may increase their work-ethic. Being graded yearly by their students test scores seems logical; except that those teachers who have exceptional reports do not earn any more recognition than those whose reports are poor (Anderson 1). Teacher whose reports are better should earn a higher wage because they have found a way that gets through to their students; the students retain the information better.

There are many possibilities for ways to asses a teacher’s worth, whether it be by standards, degrees, methods, or ability to conform to different circumstances (1). I believe, as a future teacher and long-time assistant, that all of these things should be considered when evaluating a teacher. Each teacher is different and thus deserves a different wage based on what they accomplish as a teacher. The report by Anderson reviewed teachers work, worth and value finding that throughout careers teacher tend to be even, statistically, considering their work and students test scores (1). Over the past six years, the evaluation system has changed twenty-one times (1). How can anyone be sure which teachers are preforming well and which ones are not, when there is no definite standard of what is right and wrong (1)? Jason Richwine, a major skeptic of raising teacher’s pay, says “The path to reform starts with the truth” (“Do Teachers Deserve” 1).

With so many teachers having to teach a certain set of curriculum over a set period of time, the effectiveness seems to come down to the individual teachers methods to make the students remember the information (Anderson 1). Every year this is becoming harder and harder because the class size is increasing, bringing up another reason as to why teachers deserve a pay raise. Among the lousy pay, teachers do have one major benefit, and it’s not health care (Hare 1). Summer! Summer is sought after by millions of students every year, but citizens forget that teachers also have those three glorious months away from school as well, aside from those who choose to teach summer school (1). In those three months teachers have the choice to work or take a long, well-deserved, vacation. Many choose to find another job, teach summer school or continue their education by attending summer classes (1). Broadening their areas of expertise, learning new things teach, or simply taking a class for themselves such as pottery, teachers do get a nice break most employees in America do not have. When teachers return to school after summer there is always a new surprise with the class.

The average high school class size in the state of Missouri has grown over the past two years from twenty-three to twenty-eight students per class according to “K–12 | Daily Report” published by Missouri Watch Center for Investigative Reporting, written by Louis Freedberg (1). A single teacher in a high school classroom has to watch twenty-eight students while teaching a subject and hoping to help them retain the information (1). Teachers have less and less time with each individual student, which allows more time for students to misbehave or not pay attention, and raising the student to teacher ratio creates lower and lower test scores, reflecting poorly on the value of a teacher (Freedberg 1). With students steadily increasing each year methods in high schools need to change. The realization that soon teachers will not be able to teach effectively is slowly beginning to set in (1). While college courses are stacked with up to two hundred students in a lecture, high schools need to be kept smaller. High school is a place for general education, with a more up-close and personal approach (1).

“Teacher Salaries and Teacher Attrition” a study by Jennifer Imazeki, publish in Economics of Education Review late 2005, shows high schools across the country earn seven percent higher scores on major tests such as the ACT, SAT, State Constitution Tests and foreign language comprehension tests, with smaller class sizes (Imazeki 1). While seven percent is not much it shows a definite increase with a more personal approach taken. When class sizes are too large students become more afraid to ask questions hurting them in the long run (1). A student learning less is the worst thing in education. Arthur MacRae, the author of “Teachers’ Salaries” published by The Globe and Mail in 1978, emphasized the growing class sizes. In 1978 MacRae could see what was happening. Class sizes in 1978 where only seventeen people per teacher, and teachers back then thought it was getting out of control (1). Geraldine Johnson said the same thing in 1986 when the class size grew to an “astonishing” nineteen (Johnson 1).

Teachers are not the only ones who teach in the classroom setting. Most teachers admit they learn many new things each and every day from their students, whether it be subject related or not (Rodgers 1). A major thing teachers continue to learn about is technology (1). Students continue to grow up with more and faster growing technology. Some teachers try to implement social media such as Facebook or Twitter into their classes to keep in contact with students during the school year (1). This allows direct contact with students and possibly parents (1). While these sites bring many moral and ethical issues to teaching and interaction between the students and teachers, social media is a great tool (Swope 1).

“Teacher’s Under Scrutiny” an article written by Robert Swope and published in Yakima Herald – Republic in 2013, lists the positives and negatives of using social media with high school age students (1). Teacher’s use social media to distribute homework assignments, answer questions, discuss topics, and in some places talk with parents about what is going on in the classroom. Sites such as these also allow teachers to communicate with other teachers in the same field to share lesson plans and ideas. Writer of “A New Era of Classroom Transparency,” Jody Passanisi says: “For example, teachers in different sections of the same class can share a page—with materials, assessments, and more—that can be accessed by all teachers at once.

And when teachers publish their lesson plans to online servers, blogs, and professional-networking platforms like Twitter, they are taking significant steps toward opening their practice up to the suggestions, revisions, and input of their colleagues. That can only help to increase and create better learning experiences for students.” (Passanisi 1) Teachers set this up on their own time help students. Negatives of doing this are inappropriate conversations and relations have been discovered through sites like Facebook, although the same relations have been proven to take place before social media sites began (Swope 1).

Imagine some of the world’s richest and most influential people such as President Barack Obama, Microsoft’s Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and Sam Walton the creator of Wal-Mart. Now picture them as students in an elementary class setting or in high school. It is hard to imagine because we did not know them in their young ages, but we know they must have gone through it. These major contributors to society had many teachers throughout their primary, secondary and collegiate schooling many of which inspired and molded these famous names into which they have become.

Teachers have a role in shaping society by forming who people become. While Bill Gates has amassed a fortune over sixty-six billion dollars in thirty-nine years, or an average of $1.7 billion dollars a year, the teachers who taught him what he knows make a miniscule wage of roughly $52,000 a year (“Bill Gates” 1). Teachers do all that they can to provide students with proper materials and a safe and influential environment to become better.

The job of a teacher never stops growing. Teachers are responsible for what happens in the school and classrooms, and in a few moments everything can change (Hare 1). Attackers have been known to target schools for the fact that children are helpless in most situations. Columbine High School Massacre is a well-known attack on a school, and most recently the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut, have shed light on a disturbing truth. Teachers are not only educators but protectors as well. With the average school day being seven hours long, parents want to know that their children are safe all day and being a teacher accepts that responsibility. In multiple states legislation is in progress or passed to allow teachers to carry a weapon in the classroom, as long as they have their Carrying a Concealed Weapon permit, or CCW (Eligon 1).

North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota and Utah are among the first states to pass these laws to allow teachers to carry a weapon in schools (1). State Representative Scott Craig said: “Given the national attention to safety in schools, specifically in response to tragedies like in Connecticut, this is huge,… hopefully dominoes will start to fall, people will see it’s reasonable, it’s safer than they think, it’s proactive and it’s preventive” (Eligon 1). Soon CCW’s will be mandatory by teachers, and who will pay for it (1)?

Why do teachers go to work every day? Why do they put in such an amazing effort knowing the little they get in return? Teachers do all of this because they know that it’s the right thing to do. In a teachers eyes salary is one of the smallest things. Getting into teaching, they knew that the pay was not the greatest. Teachers unions are fighting for better pay because it’s what needs to happen. Teachers aren’t poor by any standards, but they aren’t rich either. What teachers are rich in is love and supports. According to Jill Hare’s “When, Where, and How Much Do U.S. Teachers Work?,” teachers are one of the most loved and supported professions (1). Although many teachers love their jobs, and all of the perks that come with it there is always that American “need” for more, whether it be more money, more help, or more options to teach.

Money is the root of all evil, and making more doesn’t make a person a better teacher. There will be a day when the teaching profession has more teachers than it needs, and until that day comes teachers need to be treated better. The average teacher makes $51,673, and the country needs to realize that for the amount of work that the individual teachers put in, there needs to be better pay (“Estimated Average Annual” 1).

Teachers are the backbone of society. Spending so much of their personal time outside of school, devoted to their students (Hare 1). Teachers work as hard if not harder than many other well-paid jobs to provide the perfect learning environment for children (Hare 1). It is mind boggling for anyone to contest that teachers deserve more than they currently make (Hare 1). Teachers protect students, inspire them to become better people and motivate them to become the leaders of the future. Being undervalued, teachers continue with their work day in and day out, making lessons, grading homework, doing research and in some cases going to school themselves (Hare 1).

Working fifty-five hours a week with and for students, teachers deserve better recognition (Hare 1). With the increasing class sizes and new technology being introduced teachers are struggling to keep up with the time (Imazeki 1; Rodgers 1). The small amount that teachers pay has been increased over a decade does not fully compensate them for their work (Wilson 1). Increasing pay would pull more graduating college students in the education field, which would increase the amount of higher-leveled teachers, thus making students smarter and smarter as time goes on (Trotter 1). While pay is not the only thing that needs to be fixed in education it is a good place to start because it offers a better incentive for those educators who are too caught up with money (Anderson 1). Teachers are hard workers, who educate our future; paying them more is a simple peace-offering for the amount of work and dedication they put into each and every student.

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Why Teachers Deserve Better Pay. (2016, May 10). Retrieved from


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