A brief Google search or a few minutes watching the local and national news will tell you that all is not well for students and teachers in America. Protests, walkouts, and sickouts abound with no end in sight. School districts are struggling to staff classrooms and are failing to retain qualified teachers. Some districts have even turned their recruitment efforts overseas to fill their vacancies. To make matters worse, colleges and universities are seeing increasingly low enrollment in teacher training programs. Apparently, fewer Americans want to become teachers. Why is there so much discontent with the state of education in our country? Read on to find out.
Sadly, the same problems that inspired us to create TeacherCents several years ago are still here today. Low pay, shrinking budgets, out of pocket expenses for classroom supplies coupled with high student loan debt, credit card debt, and the inability to keep pace with the cost of living are just some of the big problems negatively impacting the present and future state of education. I won’t even get into the challenges teachers are facing in the classroom where their primary focus should be. Instead teachers are having to juggle multiple jobs just to get by. With all the negative press regarding the realities of teaching is there any wonder fewer young people are heeding the call to enter what many still consider to be a “noble profession?”
Now I should mention that some states are doing a better job than others when it comes to paying teachers. If you are teacher or are still thinking about becoming one and want to find out the best and worst states for teaching, click here. Spoiler alert: According to edweek.org NY State offers the highest salaries in the country with the opportunity for the most experienced teachers to earn a base salary in the six figures range. This may sound great, but you need to take into consideration the cost of living in the Apple State. Six figures may be considered high in parts of NY but not in NYC. Let’s take a moment to look at a real paradox many teachers face when looking to increase their salary.
One of the fastest ways for teachers to increase their salary is to obtain a masters or a doctorate degree. Having an advanced degree of education in most states will yield more money in your paycheck. The paradox is that to obtain your masters or doctorate degree you often need to take on more debt in the form of student loans. You may have raised your salary but are now faced with more debt! This is not a very enticing proposition. Yes, there are programs to help you with your debt burden, but that’s not the point. My basic point is that it is difficult being a teacher today and these difficulties will affect the future of schools and most importantly the future of students.
As a country we need to answer the following questions: Do students deserve a good education? Do teachers deserve the tools and resources to do their job? Do good teachers deserve a good salary? If the answers to the above questions are YES, then we have a lot of work to do. If the answers are no, then we have a lot of soul searching to do.
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