The role of teaching is undervalued in our society as evidenced by the low wages that teachers earn regardless of their levels of education and experience. Teachers deserve to get paid more due to the importance of their role and the hard work and long hours involved. Teacher pay has been a debate for a long time, yet there are still changes that need to occur.
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I believe that teachers play a critical role in our society and deserve to get paid more money. Teachers do more than just teach. They make a significant impact on students lives, not only educationally, but they also often provide stability and resources for students who may be in need. Teachers also develop relationships with their students, make them feel valued, and act as role models. The pressures of growing up in today’s world create a lot of stress and issues for students, and teachers have such responsibility to support their students development and growth.
Teachers chose to go into a career field that helps others and makes a difference. Not only do they spend time teaching in the classroom nine months out of the year, but they also spend a lot of their time outside of the classroom preparing for their next day. Once they complete their seven hour day in the classroom, they spend their nights grading homework and creating lesson plans. Not only this, a lot of teachers coach sports and clubs so they can earn a little extra money. Teaching is an around the clock job and it includes nights and weekend work. Aside from the roles in the school, many teachers also work second jobs because they just aren’t making enough money to support themselves and their families. The majority of teachers are raising families, but how are they supposed to do that when they are at work all day, coaching, and working second jobs just to meet ends meet?
It is a known fact within our society that teachers are underpaid, yet highly valued. It is common knowledge that the teaching profession does not pay enough, which also impacts the ability to attract and retain people to the profession. The low pay causes many people to look down upon the profession simply because we live in a country that values money and status. It’s very frustrating as a future educator to see how little is being done about this issue and I worry about whether or not this will impact my career and financial future. Other helping professions, such as nursing, have much higher wages and more people are attracted to the profession due to the higher pay. For such a valuable role in educating our children and our society, it makes no sense why teachers are undervalued. Considering the increasing violence in our schools and the mental health issues faced by youth and adolescence, the role of the teacher is more critical than it has ever been in our history. I am passionate about taking steps towards creating a difference for higher teacher pay. As a college student, I am able to experience and learn about all the hard work that goes into being a teacher as I work towards getting my degree.
Colorado Amendment 64 amended the constitution of the state of Colorado and outlined a statewide drug policy for cannabis (CDE 2018). When this amendment was passed, voters approved that a portion of the tax revenue from marijuana sales would go to fund education in the state. One percent of the tax revenue goes towards the states total education budget. The money was aimed to go towards construction, bullying prevention, and behavioral health. An article written by Coloradoan talks about how money from marijuana sales isn’t benefiting Colorado education as much as they hoped (Ragan, 2018). On average, it costs about $17 million to build a brand new school. As stated in the Colorado Amendment 64, one percent of the tax revenue from marijuana sales goes to Colorado’s education budget. This ends up being about $40 million. If one school itself costs $17 million, they wont have even close to enough money to fund schools, especially because there are many school districts in the state of Colorado competing for this money to go towards their schools. This amendment could have potentially helped enhance the lives of teachers in their classrooms, but the fact that it didn’t serve much of a purpose shows how teachers and education are still undervalued.
An article written by 12 News states that, teachers could face discipline, lose their teaching credentials or even lose their job (Resnik 2018). This is a violation to these peoples rights written in the constitution. According to the United States Constitution, Amendment 1 states that, people have the right to assemble, protest and petition peacefully about their grievances against government. (U.S. Const. Amend. I). This amendment shows how all people, in this case all teachers, have the right to petition against the government. They shouldn’t have to face the threat of losing their job just because they are protesting something they strongly believe in. Protests against teacher pay is a current issue in the United States. A recent protest, is the Red for Ed campaign, which was created by educators in Arizona. This campaign serves as a way for teachers and education advocates to speak out against low teaching salaries. The Red for Ed campaign spread across all of the United States and created walkouts and protests in many different states. This was a way for teachers to come together and work towards a common cause. Unfortunately, there were some repercussions to this. Specifically in Arizona, jobs were at risk if Arizona teachers chose to walk out.
This past week, TIMES Magazine came out with a powerful cover page regarding teacher pay. The article emphasized how teachers in America are struggling to pay their bills (Reilly 2018). A teacher in Kentucky talked about how on top of teaching, she works three jobs and donates blood plasma, just to make extra money. She earned her masters degree two decades ago and never thought she would struggle so bad financially. She works an eleven hour school day and goes to a second job right after, trying to supplement her $55,000 annual salary. According to the Department of Education, teachers are experiencing the lowest pay wages since 1990. Another woman in the article is a fourth-generation educator who is struggling and says she wants to be paid for what she’s worth. Her and her daughter share a bed in a small apartment. She spends $1,000 of her own money a year on supplies, but has been laid off three times due to budget cuts. Just these two examples are teachers in our country is enough evidence as to why teachers should get paid more. Teacher pay is continuing to only get worse, which is why we need to work together to raise teacher pay. Teachers are going to continue to protest and leave the profession, which our country cannot afford.
A good way to put low teaching salaries in the United States into perspective is by comparing the salaries to much higher teaching salaries in countries outside of the United States (Stoltzfus 2017). One of the world’s wealthiest countries is Luxembourg, which pays its educators more than any other country, up to $137,000 in U.S. dollars. Luxembourg pays new teachers $79,000, which is more than teachers in the United States earn, no matter what their education level and credentials are or how much experience they have. Other countries, like Switzerland, Germany, and Austria, pay their educators over double what the United States pays. A lot of other countries base their teacher pay on gender, length of time them have taught, and what grade they teach. Teacher pay has to do with a lot of factors, like cost of living, school districts, and years of experience. Overall, the United States is falling behind in how they treat their educators and needs to step up in order to compete with other countries. The United States is a well developed country and there is no reason why our education system should not focus on higher pay and teacher quality like these other countries.
My first addressee will be Betsy Devos, who is the secretary of the U.S. Department of Education. Devos serves as an advocate for children and a voice for parents. She works with President Donald Trump to help gain equal opportunities for a good education for all students. I think that it would be good to write to Devos because she has the power to make strides towards increasing teacher pay and to change the future of education.
My second addressee will be Donald Trump. As the President of the United States, he has the power to support and make changes to teacher pay and funding in schools.
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