With More Money Comes…

With More Money Comes…

Teacher salaries have been debated for decades, certainly while I was teaching, and the overwhelming opinion seems to be that teachers don’t make enough, especially compared to other professionals. It’s really a simple argument and includes factors such as the importance of educating children, having earned advance degrees on par with other professionals, and the added responsibilities of a changing society.

Unfortunately for teachers and those who support raising their salaries, there are several factors that harm their cause. First, and most important, is that teaching is often viewed as a part time job. Many see a short work day, multiple days and weeks off during the school year, and the entire summer off as well. Second, teachers don’t receive the respect that they feel they deserve by students, parents, and those outside of the educational system. Finally, since practically everyone went to school at one time and had daily contact with teachers, many view teaching as an “easy job”- hand out a worksheet or coloring page to younger kids, assign reading or a written assignment to older kids, and then relax. Teachers may know there’s much more to their “job”, but others don’t.

I do believe that teacher salaries need to substantially increase, but this won’t happen in isolation. Teachers need to demonstrate their desire to be part of a system that is improving. Here are some suggestions:

  • Extend the teaching day. You may work late on a school day, on a weekend, or during a vacation, but no one sees it.
  • Just as teachers should have high expectations for their students, teachers must also consistently conduct themselves in a professional manner, involving such varied topics as personal dress, confidentiality, etc. Hold yourself to a higher standard.
  • Extend the school year. I know vacations are fun (I still miss snow days), but teachers absolutely have to address the image of having a “part time job”. Adding a week or two to both the beginning and end of a school year addresses curriculum needs, classroom prep, and changes in school policies and procedures, in addition to altering a teacher’s status as “part time”.
  • This is very difficult, but teachers and administrators need to take charge of the educational program. When schools project the image that parents and community members decide how schools are run, they’re no longer viewed as professionals. Parental input and involvement is crucial, but educators are the professionals. Make it clear that educators are in charge of running the school.

It’a always so easy for someone to tell others what to do and to suggest that they have all of the answers. However, teachers have to ask themselves two questions.

  1. What justifies large salary raises if nothing else changes?
  2. Even if salaries see increases, are teachers going to be viewed as true professionals?

Any thoughts?

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