The average teacher makes about $57,000 a year before taxes, but they often start out at a far lower amount of about $30,000-40,000. Which sounds like a lot, right? But, when you factor in an average student loan debt of $30,000, along with living expenses, that number becomes incredibly inadequate. For comparison, the average income of someone with a master’s degree, which most teachers will earn during their career, is $79,000.
The pitiful amount that teachers are paid has led to massive shortages in the workforce, which has only put more stress on those who choose to remain in the field. Many teachers have to pick up a second job— all in addition to the incredible amount of work they do inside and outside their classrooms.
Teachers aren’t just expected to show up and teach children. They are expected to grade homework and test, write tests and lesson plans, attend teaching conferences and hold meetings with parents. Additionally, they are expected to do an astronomical amount of bureaucratic paperwork at the beginning and end of a grading period. When you factor in all the extra time that teachers spend outside of the classroom to be successful in their classroom, it’s clear that teachers aren’t adequately compensated. Not even close.
Many teachers face the added pressures of “teaching for the test.” Some teachers pay, or even their entire position, relies on their ability to teach several classes of students enough information for the numerous standardized tests. In fact, this isn’t even a test of what the teachers teach, but, rather, a test of whether students are able to retain the information— a highly subjective and individual measurement.
Then, one can’t undercut parental involvement. Theoretically, parents should be alleviating the pressure on teachers as best as they can, but they often add to it. Parents undermine teachers all the time, whether it’s tearing into a teacher about an assignment or an “unfair” punishment, parents rarely support teachers anymore. Teachers have a thankless job, and they’re not even paid adequately for their time.
Of course, paying teachers adequately is up to the state rather than the federal government, but voters need to care about increasing pay for teachers before politicians will. Voters are often incensed at the idea of the state cutting entitlements and government programs, all the while ignoring that a proper education is often a major component of ending poverty in the first place.
If we, as voters and citizens, truly believe that education is important, then it’s about time we start paying teachers like we mean it.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.