Is the teachers salary make it worth becoming a teacher? A teacher’s profession is no doubt amongst the noblest professions of all times. Not only is the teacher imparting education but in many ways, they are also shaping our tomorrow. From the way our future leaders behave to what our future leaders learn is all intrinsically imbibed by the teacher and her teachings. Perhaps it is for this reason that the teacher’s role is often considered as important as the parents in the child’s overall growth as well as future prospects.
Therefore, this society needs to learn about valuing teachers and their role appropriately in this society. In this context of value, we often see teachers salary, one of the key indicators of value hugely deficient with respect to the overall effort they put in. Often you would have noticed that the teacher’s responsibility does not end in the classroom alone. It is almost a never ending cycle. They carry homework books home, sometimes even at home. They help some children clear doubt and even after school hours they sit with children if they are facing any difficulty. Perhaps one of the hallmarks of a great teacher is often considered the fact that they ever lose patience and ever ready to help the students. But keeping in mind the meager teachers salary, a question that might bother you is:
Are we taking a teacher’s contribution and why don’t the teachers earn at par with professionals in multinational companies?
If their effort is being recognized as so important then why isn’t the necessary monetary compensation set aside for them?
The question is how can we gain parity in a teacher’ salary in tandem with other related professions?
For this, I presume a detailed study of the teacher’s profession and its overall impact on the society is crucial.
Why Is Parity in Teachers Salary Important?
The teachers salary is often debated and considered not just in the interest of the teaching community. It is also considered because of the kind of effect it has on the society at large. It is a common understanding that a lot of people are dissuaded from the teaching profession because of the lack of adequate pay. It means that you have poor quality, and an inadequate number of teachers. Also, this can be a serious threat to the already slow pace of economic growth that the United States is observing. In case you are wondering the impact that teachers salary can have on the economic growth, let me elaborate.
In a rather alarming revelation, it has been observed that the relatively lower achievement scale of American students could be a limiting factor for their eventual financial success and might also prevent them from accessing high paying jobs. This outcome is part of the tests conducted by the Program for International Student Assessment or PISA. When students are not able to access better jobs and greater opportunities, it is observed that this directly impacts achievement levels and economic growth thereby.
After all lower achievement of slower economic growth in general.
Perhaps, it is for this reason that you would also find a relatively larger number of people without access to proper education and a higher level of ignorance in the economically backward nation. In contrast, countries like Finland, which has earned a name for itself in terms of consistently excelling in student achievement is pegged to add over $50 trillion to GDP between 2010-2090. Taking forward the same line of comparison you would also notice that the economic activity slumped by less than $3 trillion since the last recession. Therefore, it is this achievement gap that is being seen in many countries like the US as compared to other nations like Finland seems to be affecting recession over the longer haul.
In fact, it is often believed that the quality of a teacher is one of the most important factors in the country’s effort to breach the huge achievement gap in the US. It is considered as the key factor that can bump up the overall level of achievement across the education system. The only way to achieve this is perhaps by radically improving the quality of the teachers who are responsible for helping these students with the ever increasing bar for achievement indicators. As per some recent studies, it is indicated that the variation in quality of teachers and ratio of good teachers to bad is startling even within a single school, forget about different schools in a locality, state or even the whole country. Often a single good teacher can play a key role in not scaling up the achievement levels of a class of students but by extension a community, a district and even a particular state.
While most amongst us can easily spell out the difference between a good and a bad teacher.
But what we cannot fathom the overall impact they have on a student’s life or initiatives that can be taken to bring in a better quality. That brings us to the key salary component and why is teachers salary important. If you notice the trend followed by major technology companies or even big banks, often higher salary, perks and even bonus are ways to attract deserving candidates for a specific job offer. Not just that even in terms of measuring a person’s progress, promotion in designation and a raise in salary are the key components. But that’s very rarely followed when it comes to teachers salary, at least in this country.
The question is does this make the job less lucrative?
Does it in many ways wean away deserving candidates from the job?
Well, the naysayers could say that a teacher’s salary cannot be linked to the service they render to the society. It can’t also be linked to equating it with monetary remuneration might often even be equal to providing financial remuneration for mother’s love or a parent’s duty towards children.
I beg to differ on this point.
Think about the role that a doctor or a lawyer serve in the society. All their roles are extremely important and in many ways, they are undertaking great social services like saving people’s life and helping stand up against social evils and wrong. But we do pay them and pay them quite handsomely for the services they render. In fact, the doctors across the US are amongst the best-paid individuals. The question then is why don’t we consider better financial remuneration despite appreciating their worth and the key role that a teacher plays in the overall social set up today?
Teachers Salary: An Insight into Reality
Well, for so long we have argued about the fact that the teacher’s salary being inadequate. Therefore in this context, it is also important to understand how much it is and the real room for growth that is sustainable for the nation at large. When you look at the overall context, you would notice that teaching can hardly be considered a profession in absolute terms when you compare it with many other countries like France, UK or even neighboring Canada.
The fact is that in the US, it is not considered as an attractive career if you are looking for financial gains. If you look at the data generated by payscale.com, the average annual starting salary of a teacher in the United States is less than $35,000 after taxes and benefits. In fact, by extension, if you look at the overall monthly net income it often hovers around an astonishingly paltry amount of $2000 a month. It might even make you wonder that this salary which is on par with a bank teller’s job or an office assistant is often considered adequate for the person who is imparting education to your child.
Teachers Often Manage Your Children
Teachers often manage your children for close to 30 hours a week, work on home assignments and sometimes work even beyond their designated hours. What is even more surprising and painful to an extent is the fact that many schools across the US need their teachers to buy their own supplies to teach students due to budget constraint.
The basic question that should bother you then is why pay the school?
And why the fees shouldn’t directly translate into teachers salary?
While on the face of it, they might seem really minor expenses but on a sustained basis, these could amount to as much as 5 -10% of a teacher’s net income. This fact does not just raise a question on the overall budgetary allocation for the teaching staff and a teacher’s salary. But in many ways, it kind of raises the question on the true worth of a teacher in our society. While most of us would hanker for promotion and better financial package at our workplace, suddenly seem absolutely non-committal about raising the salary and promising a better life for the people who made us this capable.
Understanding a Teacher’s Actual Worth
While many of you might debate on the exact salary that truly recognizes a teacher’s true worth, most will agree that this meager compensation of under $35,000 is hardly sufficient given the teacher’s role. Yes, indeed a teacher’s role in a student’s life in invaluable and perhaps that is why a better and a greater appreciation of their effort at least in monetary terms is of huge importance. Especially think about the kind of life you can guarantee with a salary around $35,000 and day to day expenses, they cannot afford a home that is more than $140,000-150,000 at the most.
Well when you consider the 2011 median sales price of houses around $200,000, the calculation is not too difficult to make. In fact the $150,000 also that I made is not taking into consideration a student loan or any other similar financial obligation that the teacher might have. If that is also considered well, then housing sure seems out of bounds for a person who is perhaps the backbone for creating some of the best investment wizards in the country.
What Is the Appropriate Teachers Salary?
That surely leads you to the next point as to what would you consider as the ideal salary for a teacher. Well, if the US Senator draws a salary of around $175,000 and a computer engineer or an investment banker has a salary of $100,000, is it not fair to assume that the teacher’s salary, be in the same vicinity if not equal?
It is the teacher after all that made these professionals qualified enough to earn this type of salary.
Also, the salary cannot have one basic slab.
Just like in many other professions, a teacher’s salary too must follow the demands of living in relatively costly areas and be bumped up on the same parameters as other professionals. Perhaps this is also a reason why it is increasingly becoming difficult to attract deserving and good candidates for the teacher’s job. If you see and check the top 10 majors offered by most top ranking colleges, you would be startled to realize that most of them do not offer the education major. This, in many ways, reflects the unique problem and the perception problem facing the country now and the ever yawning achievement gap that is being observed.
Expense allocation by the Government is in many ways efficient perception management too. If the Government and the People could vote for a tax waiver for a major player like GM or BankAm, can they not also look at ways of boosting the overall teachers salary across the country. The biggest advantage of this would be that it can work towards attracting a lot more deserving and quality candidates for the teaching job and also bring them at par with the other professionals. This step would not just e a major shift in the overall perception of their value in the society but also the value that we hold them in. If we can respect our teachers, convince our children to be teachers then, surely the huge achievement gap can be managed more efficiently.
When you look at a teacher’s salary, it should not be the single most reason for rejecting or not considering it as a profession. This, by far, is one of the most satisfying professions of all times anywhere across the globe. The teacher is often termed as the nation builder and plays a crucial role in better training the students to a brighter future. Not just that, this profession also has a few other perks like the fact that it is a relatively stable job and in most times recession proof.
The level of uncertainty is far lesser in this job. While there are times when the going is tough, and you may look to cut down other expenses, you will never really consider pulling your kids out of school. Additionally, the vacation and leave scenario is also fairly convenient, and as a teacher, you would have sufficient off days every year. But that said is it worth being a teacher?
Well, the teachers salary often becomes the single biggest reason for dissuading you from taking it up as a job. Therefore, a relook at the teacher’s salary is of utmost necessity.