These Heartfelt Posts Sum up Just How Poorly Teachers Are Paid

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For some reason, there’s debate in this country as to whether or not teachers are worth what they’re paid.

Let’s think about that a second.

To reinterpret the point, it’s essentially asking whether it’s alright for society to expect teachers to give and give of themselves because “think of the children” (!), while also refusing to treat them like the trained professionals they are.

Which is crazy to anyone who is a teacher or knows a teacher because it turns out they’re actual human beings who enjoy things like heat in their homes, food in their bellies, and the occasional night out or trip away to make it all bearable.

Image Credit: Pixabay

Most people go into teaching because they love children and because they want to make a difference in the world. No one – literally no one – goes into it to get rich.

But more and more people are losing interest in teaching as a career when they do the math – between the number of hours they work, the five-figure student loan debt, and the paltry beginning salary, it just doesn’t add up to a career anymore.

It adds up, according to one Oklahoma teacher whose good at her sums, to about $12/hr.

Another Oklahoma educator, Beth Wallis, penned a viral post describing a day in the life of a teacher – one that begins with her bank account being overdrawn because of a gas company error (that’s how close teachers can be to not having enough cash to cover expenses) before launching into a heartbreaking picture of finding out that another one her students had passed away.

“This is the third student of mine in four years that has passed away and it never gets easier. We love these children, we care for them, we will protect them with our bodies from bullets and tornados. We watch every school shooting go by, wondering if our district will be next; wondering if we’d be able to save them all before inevitably getting shot ourselves. We wipe their noses and dry their tears. We hold their hands and do everything we can to make sure they grow up to be strong, successful adults. We stay after school for hours listening to middle and high schoolers crying over their parents’ divorces or identity struggles, taking on the roles of therapist and advocate. We truly, genuinely, and deeply care for their happiness and wellbeing.”

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She goes on to talk about the stresses that both students and teachers find piled up at every corner, especially in a criminally underfunded education system.

“Our students don’t have BOOKS, guys. Our classrooms are sitting 30 deep and my district has it MADE compared to any of the major public schools in the state (40-50 students per class). We had over 1,800 emergency certifications this last year in the state. You think your kids are being taught by the most qualified, experienced teachers? They’re gone. The few of us who’ve stayed behind do it ONLY for the kids. Oklahoma kids DESERVE quality, compassionate education and I will provide that as long as I am able…but that’s not going to be forever. What if I were ever to want kids of my own? I can’t even afford an extra gas bill, much less provide for a child. I’m nearly 30 with a Master’s degree and still live in a rent house with a roommate in a state with one of the lowest cost of livings in the country and I will never be able to afford an actual mortgage if I stay here.”

She finishes with the final gut punch, which is that people have to stop acting like teachers have to give up everything they want materially in order to pursue a career path they love and desire.

“Stop equating teachers with martyrs. We are professionals. We are trained, educated, hardworking professionals who deserve to be paid for the work we do. We’re expected to work before and after our contracted hours every single day to get our grades in and plan for quality instruction, but most of us pray that our car can run off fumes just one more day? We’re expected to take bullets for students but most of us can barely make rent?”

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People surely realize that teachers put in so many more hours than when they’re actually teaching children. My mother was a teacher and worked at home most evening preparing for the day ahead, never mind weekend conferences, conventions, and continuing education, most of which came out of her own pocket.

Teachers are so many things, like Ms. Wallis said – they’re mentors and counselors, friendly ears, surrogate mothers, and sometimes, sadly, shields. Heroes.

Yet we pay them less than people who work in many other careers that have marginal significance to the future of this country (not that any job is something to scoff at).

So, think twice before you disparage teachers walking out in an attempt to bargain for the money they deserve, or teachers standing up for what they need so that they will be able to provide the kids they love with the education every child in the United States of America deserves.

They’re doing their best. Maybe it’s time the powers that be decided to help them, instead of stand in the way.