American society will suffer unless we pay teachers more
By: Maheen Hamza – 2022 Summer Intern
In our country, teaching is a tough job, and teachers deserve to make more money.
According to the National Education Association (NEA), the average starting salary for aa teacher in the United States is about $41,000. In Pennsylvania, it’s a bit higher at $46,991. But considering the impact of teachers on our society, and the many roles they are called to play in the lives of children, teachers are grossly underpaid.
Many teachers work 50 hours each week and face incredible challenges, from managing large classes to making sure they meet state and federal guidelines for student achievement to now having to deal with protecting students from mass shootings.
These challenges are forcing good teachers out of the classrooms and deterring many from ever stepping into it.
American society is making a big mistake in undervaluing teachers. We need good teachers to educate responsible future citizens and to help youth reach their potential. But the poor salaries teachers earn is a real threat to democracy.
Studies show almost one third of teachers in this country have to work a second job to take care of their families. And many use their own money on school supplies to make up for the lack of quality materials in their classrooms. Add to that the fact that many teachers today have the added expense of student loans they incurred to get them through college. Many have no other choice but to leave the profession due to their inability to make enough money as teachers.
Studies also salary increases for teachers have not substantially improved in the past 25 years, but the responsibilities we put on teachers has quadrupled. If we want to get out of the current crisis of seeing so many great teachers walk out of the classroom, we will have to find a way to lessen their load, make them feel more valued and to pay them more for the important work they do.
Students in poor school districts need great teachers most of all. It is impossible to attract qualified teachers to these schools without ensuring they are paid fairly for their work.
Raising teacher pay will not only benefit schools and students, but the entire community. We must insist lawmakers provide more funding for teacher salaries in public schools, which will also cause salaries of teachers in all schools to increase.
We must make sure our teachers are fairly paid and that they get the respect they deserve in American society.
Maheen Hamza wrote this opinion piece while interning for the World Affairs Council of Harrisburg and PA Media Group. It was published here.