If Anyone Deserves a Raise, It’s Teachers

Man counting pennies_ Teachers deserve a raise

What’s it like to be paid what you’re worth? I mean, really, truly paid for your countless hours of hard work, dedication, blood, sweat, and tears. I’m afraid, I, as a teacher, will never know the answer. Anyone who works in the education field will tell you that we love our job, but not the constant struggle that comes with living paycheck to paycheck. According to a study done by the National Education Association, the average teacher salary has, unfortunately, DECREASED over the past decade after adjusting for inflation. In addition, almost 20% of teachers who leave the profession, site low pay as a deciding factor. As teacher strikes continue to rage across the country (I’m looking at you, LAUSD), now’s the time to demand the monetary respect we deserve for our work in the classroom. Out of all the professions, here’s why teachers deserve a pay raise.

1. They work way more than 40 hours a week.

Yes, our contracted work day looks like 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. However, we’re at school at the crack of dawn and many of us do not leave until the wee hours of the night. When we leave, we do more work and grading. And then when the weekend comes, guess what? We do even more work and grading! If you do the math using only contracted hours, our pay is still abysmal. (I once sat and did the math, and I found out I make $15.00 an hour, which comes out to the salary of a Whole Foods worker. Not a great feeling). In today’s day and age, teachers (like most other workers) are always expected to be “on” 24/7. This isn’t a job where we mindlessly clock in and out. We need to be compensated for the nitty-gritty hard work we do on a daily basis, as well as for all of the prep it takes outside of the classroom to be a truly impactful educator.

2. They are so much more than just content specialists.  

You’re “just” an English teacher. You “just” teach math formulas all day to a bunch of high schoolers, so how hard can it be? Ask any teacher and they will tell you that actually teaching the content matter is the easiest (and least time consuming) part of their job. Teaching is not an easy, glamorous, laborless job. Granted, we aren’t cutting people open on an operating table every day, but we’re still laying ourselves out on the line. We’ve been cussed out, vomited on, and yelled at more times than we can count. And now, we have to live with the daily fear of “what if” regarding our lives, our students’ lives, and school shootings. So no, 2019…we aren’t merely teachers. We are therapists, nurses, coaches, detectives, protectors, mentors, and (sometimes) surrogate parents. It’s about time our paycheck reflects the daily work we do to shape the minds of our future.

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3. We want highly qualified people to actually be attracted to the teaching profession.

With a plethora of teacher shortages in some states, we need to take some action that will drive competent, highly skilled individuals to WANT to be teachers. Unfortunately, money is a deciding factor when weighing the pros and cons of a career. If we want to improve the educational state of our country, we need to make teaching an attractive, viable option that offers a somewhat reasonable salary.

So yes, a lot of us still signed up for this career knowing that the pay was pretty terrible. That doesn’t, however, make it right. Tell a friend, a colleague, or a stranger. 2019 is the year of the teachers. We appreciate how much you adore us, but we’d appreciate it even more if you thanked us by adding a few zeros to our paychecks.

Teachers deserve a raise

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Abigail Courter is a fifth year music teacher at a K-8 private school in California.  She has taught general music, band, music technology, and performing arts.

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