Underpaid in America: Decreased Spending Results in Underpaid Teachers
Constant chatter and noise fill the homes of families across America, as parents are faced with the full-time care of elementary school children as a result of the coronavirus pandemic; parents have taken upon the role of a “teacher” over the course of quarantine. The unprecedented challenges in 2020 have emphasized the importance of a teacher’s role in society, and this raises concerns as to why teachers still remain significantly underpaid in the United States of America.
The average teaching salary in the United States for the 2017-18 school year was approximately $60,483. However, the mean starting salary for a teacher lies below $40,0001. For many teachers, this salary does not cover their basic personal needs. Sometimes, teachers may even be forced to pay out-of-pocket for school supplies required in their classrooms.
Where do the issues lie?
Although the United States may not rank at the bottom for standardized testing, there has been a decrease in spending on education. In 2017, an OECD report revealed that the United States was one of five nations that had cut funding for education, specifically by 3%2. Consequently, when the federal government reduces support for public education, teacher salaries are also adversely affected.
Furthermore, not only do students in the United States fare worse than their foreign counterparts on OECD standardized testing2, but there is a subsequent decrease in interest to become a teacher. As teacher’s salaries have decreased or become stagnant, taxes, health insurance, and retirement pension plans have continued to rise. This unfair divide in financial support has presented negative consequences and disappointed educators.
Teachers are no longer accepting a salary that is less than their education cost -for good reason! In states such as Oklahoma and Illinois, teachers have gone on numerous strikes in an effort to pressure the Department of Education to set a minimum salary for public school teachers, nationwide. Furthermore, the National Center for Education Statistics found that 18% of public-school teachers have been forced to work multiple jobs in order to compensate for their low salaries3. With teachers consistently juggling professions, this can sometimes result in teacher absenteeism, which directly correlates to poor student performance4.
This issue matter has nothing to do with political affiliation. It has nothing to do with the choice of profession or level of education. This issue is about fighting for the individuals who have shaped our world: those who are responsible for educating the next generation: teachers.
In my opinion, the U.S. government should take initiative by implementing one of two routes: the government can set a national minimum wage that would prevent teachers from having to work multiple jobs, or the government can offer increased federal welfare benefits to teachers.
In the meantime, we can all help by donating to those who may not have access to educational resources. Education should have no boundaries.