We Aren’t Paying Teachers Nearly Enough

BY LOGAN BLEDSOE

We all know of the struggle over teachers salaries. Some fiercely say that teachers are pitifully underpaid for the important role they play in society. Others even go so far as to say that teachers are overpaid for their “easy jobs”. This assault over salaries has continued for decades. So what is really at stake here? 

The median income of a teacher in the United states is about $59,000 a year. Now for the most part, with some discrepancy, this is on par with the average salary in the U.S. You may think that since this is on the same level as the median salary in the United States, that this is a good baseline for a starting salary as a teacher, but what is not mentioned is how much work teachers must put in outside of regular school hours. We all know that teachers will often stay up late, and work at their desk for hours after school has ended, in order to keep ahead of the mounds of papers that are submitted almost daily by each of their 150 students. If you had to stay 4 hours extra after work, and were not compensated for your work, i’m sure you would be frustrated as well. Now the common rebuttal to this is that “it’s in a teacher’s job description,” but that is not the case. When I interviewed him, Vice Principal Sean Thompson stated, “There’s no rule in place from the administration side or from the district side that requires teachers to leave at a certain time.” Therefore, teachers are often inclined to stay late after school for many hours to catch up on work, without pay.

Some, however, believe that teachers are paid just enough, but this is far from the truth. Countries in Europe pay almost the same, with some paying even above the average wage. Korea, Germany, Luxembourg, and Austria are all global leaders in teacher wages. Yet they pay only about $15,000 dollars on average above what US teachers make. Most countries that are ahead of the US in teacher salaries are only on top by about $5,000 dollars. This may not seem like much, but these are all countries with a lower standard of living. These are countries where the American dollar is worth more than their Native currency. So in reality they are making way more. Yet these countries have lower GDP, lower annual budgets, and on average are just generally less wealthy yet they can afford to pay their teachers more?

Teachers in the United States make miserable wages, yet they are expected to perform at peak performance, and are charged with shaping our nation’s children into the bright minds we hope they will become. Teachers should not be tasked with modeling our young minds on optimal salaries, and poor working conditions. 

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