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The average high school teacher makes a salary somewhere between $50,000-$60,000. Sounds pretty good, right? Just wait...
Consider the education and licensing required. An elementary or secondary school teacher could be in debt anywhere from $10,000 in student loans to even over $100,000 (the average being $50,000). Okay, sure, maybe they can pay that off over 10 years, or they'll be granted the Public Service Loan Forgiveness plan. Surely they're not that underpaid!
It gets better...
A teacher spends approximately 8 hours with children and/or teenagers 5 days out of each week. Take a moment and recall what you were like as a kid, or what your peers were like if you happened to be a perfect angel.
Now picture yourself in charge of not only supervising 30+ kids just as difficult (for 8 hours per day, 5 days per week), but also ensuring they can attain a year's worth of education and pass whatever standardized tests the government throws their way. You can't just let them sit there and make sure they don't commit any heinous crimes; you actually have to teach these little monsters! (I love kids, but I'm not going to pretend they can't make your life 300 percent harder from time to time!)
Is it starting to sound scary? Well, guess what? Most teachers don't even get to go home and relax after an 8-hour day; the average teacher works 12-hour days (thus earning about $20-22/hour) with grading, after-school activities, meetings with parents, and lots of other very grueling tasks. You thought homework was bad as a student? I'll bet you never imagined how many hours of homework your teacher had every evening and weekend! This isn't even scratching the surface of the emotional and social energy it takes to deal with disgruntled parents, the politics of schooling systems, disciplining kids for the 8 hours their parents aren't there to do it... I can keep going!
Teachers don't really have potential for promotion or much of a pay raise unless they want to move on to administration. So why are they paid so little, from first-year teachers to 30-year veterans? Well, schools either depend on government or private funding because they aren't commercial: you can imagine how much money goes into a school through sales or any business ventures!
Essentially, if you want to make a ton of money in this world, you'll likely go into business, media, politics, or sports and get really good at it. The better you are in one of these fields, the more you can rise up into a net worth of millions or even billions. Don't get me wrong: Robert Herjavec, Robert Downey Jr., Peyton Manning (sorry, I'm sure there's a famous athlete named Robert, but I don't know much about sports), and other such gentlemen worked hard to get where they are in fame and money. My problem is... where does working hard get a teacher? You don't exactly Google the net worth of an accomplished educator: there simply is no money in the field of education!
How can the education of future generations be so unimportant? Yeah, Robert Downey Jr. works hard, but so do teachers. Is the missing factor here that teachers don't entertain their audience? People pay exorbitant amounts of money to see live performances, in theater or football stadiums: a one-time experience! Yet we can't cough up more than a measly $50,000 annual salary for some of the most important people in the workforce?
The best-paid teachers make just over $92,000 (that makes up about 10 percent of our teacher population). That is the highest salary our teachers have achieved... and that's chump change for any of the gentlemen I listed in the four other fields.
C) Both A and B
I'm not a teacher, so I can really say this without any personal vendetta or bitterness clouding my judgment: there's something wrong with a country that values entertainment more than the education of its children.
Teachers should have whatever they need whenever they need it for achieving their goals as educators. Contrary to popular belief, there is nothing easy about being a teacher. It is not the job for someone who has no dream. Quite the opposite! The only people who can and should be teachers are those who have a dream: a dream that gets them through the sleepless nights, the ridiculous hours, the soul-crushing disappointments, the daunting expectations, and the minimum monetary compensation (which many of them spend on school supplies for their students anyway).
Teachers are the anonymous heroes. They're Superman hiding behind glasses and a three-piece suit. They're not in it for the money and benefits: clearly!
D) Don't let them go unappreciated.
I don't know what can be done to compensate for all that our teachers go through. But there is no greater aspiration than to love, and the real teachers do that every day: by coming to work and daring students to learn, to challenge themselves, and to dream. That is why they are overworked and underpaid: they constantly improve a world that gives them so little in return.
Thanks so much for reading!