Teacher wages are too low in this country

Teachers in America have been earning low wages for decades and this negatively impacts their lives and lifestyles. Some teachers have to be on food stamps while people, like Hope Brown from Kentucky, donate blood plasma to pay bills. Around 3.2 million full-time public school teachers are facing low wages and the worst wage stagnation. 

Teacher salaries are funded with local and state money with some federal subsidies, funds that directly go to schools from the government, not the teachers. 

Several candidates for the election of 2020 have suggested subsidizing teacher pay with federal tax money. Sanders believes all teacher salaries should start at $60,000 which would be higher than the average teacher salary in 37 states. 

On the other hand, Biden has a plan to increase teacher pay, providing universal pre-K and leveling the playing field between rich and poor school districts.

Most teachers love what they do but just don’t get paid enough to survive, which is why so many are leaving the profession. However, each state differs in its pay scale and the strength of the powers of the unions. 

Right-to-work laws require union contracts to cover all workers, not just the members of the union. This problem can reduce the union’s bargaining strength which results in lower wages and benefits. The district can also choose to slash a teacher’s salary and the union cannot help with it. 

For example, Kansas is a right-to-work state which means the state laws prohibit unions and employers from requiring employees to be union members, which was a major issue for a teacher in Kansas who quit in the middle of a school board meeting. 

Amanda Coffman from Shawnee Mission School District quit her job in the middle of a school board meeting because of her dissatisfaction with unions. Coffman was fed up with the way teachers were treated in her public school system. She was unsatisfied, like other teachers, with the workload and salaries. 

“Teaching is like a bad marriage: You never get your needs met, but you stay in it for the kids,” she quoted. “The kids and I deserve better,” she told the Board.

An English teacher from Naugatuck High School said, “That if teachers got paid what a babysitter gets paid that’s $10 an hour times the number of students I have which is 95 students is $950 plus a 180 schools days, I should get paid $172,900 annually. And since I have a doctoral degree and have been teaching for 21 years I get paid $100,000 but I think I should make $170,000.”

Teacher salaries nationwide are down compared to recent decades. They’ve shrunk 1.6% nationwide between 2000 and 2017, according to data from the National Center for Education Statistics. Because of this teachers have been on strikes and continue to rally for higher pay..

Coffman, as well as many other teachers, believe in increases in salaries, and benefits and funding for public education. Many have suffered because of these low wages but a teacher’s salary is not commensurate with her responsibilities.

According to the U.S. Department of Education (2015), from 2011 to 2012 approximately 20% of public school teachers reported being verbally abused, 10% reported being physically threatened, and 5% reported being physically attacked in schools. 

The truth is many teachers have hidden the nasty secret that they are being physically assaulted by students. Brett Bigham is the 2014 Oregon State Teacher of the Year and a member of the National Network of State Teachers of the Year. He says he was beaten to the ground by a student.

 “They used a TV cord to whip me and then bit me so badly I was sent to the hospital,” he said. 

Teachers should definitely be paid higher wages due to the abuse they face regularly even when no one can stop it. 

Along with physical abuse, a countless number of teachers are forced to pay for their own supplies. According to survey findings released by the Department of Education on Tuesday, 94 percent of public school teachers said they paid for supplies without reimbursement in 2014 and 2015. “Virtually every public school teacher said they had used their own money for their classrooms,” said New York Times. Teachers spend at least $500-1000 a year to give their students what they need. 

A social studies teacher, Rosa Jimenez, teaches at the UCLA community college in California and has spent $1000 on supplies when she has been laid off three times due to budget cuts. She and her child also must share a bed in a small apartment. 

Considering the low pay most teachers have to deal with already, spending their money on supplies can become a financial burden. They sacrifice their own money to ensure their students get the education they deserve. 

Some teachers also do work over the summer and still don’t get the wage they earn. While a minority of teachers are lucky to get the summer off, most of them are spending their summer working with preparing lesson plans or teaching summer school. The pay is simply too low for teachers to stop working from June through August when they really should be on break. 

“If I left education and went to the business world with four degrees I would be paid quadruple what I’m making which is ridiculously unfair. The problem is not a lot of people are going into teaching because of that,” said an English teacher from Naugatuck High School. 

According to research by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), the teacher shortage could reach 200,000 by 2025, up from 110,000 in 2018.  Having a shortage of teachers will cause a decline in educational standards and students will also have a negative impact on having the ability to graduate. In order to improve teacher shortage, higher pay is a big factor in empowering teachers. 

Overall, there are many issues in considering why teachers should get paid more since it’s ridiculously unfair of the wage they get paid today in America. Teachers should earn a higher salary when they are doing a difficult job and do so much for the success of their students. The future development of success of students is in the hands of our teachers and teachers should be treated with respect as well as earning the wage they deserve.