By Lois Kim
Whether you love or hate your teachers, you have to admit: teachers are important. It takes a lot of determination and courage to dedicate your life to teaching children all day long. Teachers have the ability to change their students’ lives for the better by encouraging them to work harder, helping them find their passion, or just by being a constant, positive force in their lives.
Since over 60% of teachers have started to work second jobs, use food banks, and even sell their blood to make ends meet, according to the New Teacher Project (NTP), I would argue that teachers do not get the rewards they deserve. Furthermore, not only are teachers underpaid, but over 92% of teachers also use their own money to buy supplies for their students, according to the Teacher Salary Project (TSP).
Not only is being a teacher difficult, but just becoming one is challenging as well. To become a credentialed educator in California, one must complete a series of obstacles from receiving a bachelor degree, a credential, and increasingly a Master’s Degree all in less than 5 years. But despite their hard work, American teachers make between 67 to 72% of what people with bachelors degrees usually make. Also, over the past few years, over 10,000 of America’s highest performing teachers will quit teaching every year, partly due to a subpar salary.
So what can we do to fix this issue, and hire the teachers that students deserve? Increase the teaching salary.
The impacts of raising a teacher’s salary have been tested by a charter middle school in Manhattan, through the Equity Project, a study conducted by the Mathematica Policy Research and paid for by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. During the Equity Project, a charter middle school in Manhattan paid its teachers a salary of $125,000 with bonuses depending on their performance, compared to the average $64,000 to $74,000 that teachers are paid. Of course, this pay increase came with a price of longer hours, slightly larger classes, four weeks of professional development a year, and regular reviews. However, most of these standards have been occurring in schools around the nation.
At first, they had similar test scores, family incomes, and other demographics.Four years later, the students had an average test score increase in math equivalent to another year and a half of school, compared with the other district students. These differences demonstrate the huge impact increasing the salary does to not only the teachers, but also the students.
Ultimately, increasing the salary of our nation’s teachers is necessary to improve the quality of our education and to benefit the leaders of tomorrow.
Fortunately, Granada Hills Charter High School has already begun giving its teachers the recognition they deserve by increasing their salary by 14% in 2014. GHCHS also pays for the majority of supplies that teachers buy for their students. And although we go to an exceptional school, hopefully the pay raises will encourage teachers to work harder and improve our education even more.