Teacher Pay Raises: Breaking the Stigma
I have been teaching English in a public high school for 13 years. We stopped getting our step raise as of 5 years ago and my wife and our four children have been living off of that salary, watching the cost of living go up by the day in this country.
I read a story today out of Alabama which reported that a state legislator in their state with the biblical name of Shadrack McGill stated that teachers in his state should not want a pay raise because:
“It’s a Biblical principle. If you double a teacher’s pay scale, you’ll attract people who aren’t called to teach. To go in and raise someone’s child for eight hours a day, or many people’s children for eight hours a day, requires a calling. It better be a calling in your life. I know I wouldn’t want to do it, OK?”
He goes on to say that legislators instead deserve a 67% increase in pay because of all the hard work they do. Unfortunately, this legislator (as moronic as he is) is a good example of the stigma that pervades this country concerning education.
Legislators in the state of Oklahoma (my state) have opted this year not to take the automatic pay raise of upper level state officials finally after five years of raises when teachers have had to struggle. You can read about it here. I guess they still see us as glorified baby-sitters and not as creating the foundation of the culture by educating the young.
We should take a lesson from Finland. This small scandanavian country scores higher on math and reading than any other country in the world. Teaching is a prestigious career in Finland. Teachers are highly valued and teaching standards are high. Finland’s teachers are respected like medical doctors are respected. The teacher pay is comarable to average teacher pay in the U.S., but there is a respect for teachers as the builders of the foundation of their culture and society. All in all, that is something that is lost on our legislators. I have heard some politicians even call us “leeches”. (Governor Christie).
All I want is to provide for my family and do a good job. I just want to see my students succeed and become productive citizens in this great nation of ours. Most teachers work very hard and do many thankless jobs for very little pay. Most teachers spend money that they don’t have and go into debt on credit cards just so they can purchase supplies for their classrooms.
Teachers should be paid for what they are worth. What are they worth to you?