Teachers do not receive sufficient compensation for important job

by Miranda Cloyd

America has an imbalanced and skewed priority list when it comes to monetary value placed on occupations, especially with educational professionals. Teachers do not receive enough recognition or pay for the amount of work they put into their vocation.

Anesthesiologists are the highest-paid professionals in America, averaging $232,830 per year, according to U.S. News & World Report. Medical professionals hold the top nine spots of the top 10 highest-paid careers.

Chief executives, who earn approximately $176,840 every year, hold the final spot on the list. Teachers in Washington state make $36,474 on average, according to the National Education Association.

There’s no doubt that medical professionals contribute an astronomical amount to society, but no one can justify the amount of money that professional athletes earn. Athletes in the NBA each made an average of $5.15 million in 2010-11, according to Yahoo Sports. Beyond entertainment and physical accomplishment, what do professional athletes contribute to society?

Many other countries place a significantly higher value on the time of teachers. Luxembourg leads the world in salary for teachers, averaging nearly $70,000 per year, closely followed by Korea, Switzerland and Germany, according to The New York Times. The U.S. places 11th on the list, reporting a national average of close to $44,000 per year.

Teachers pay an outrageous amount to get the required degree to become a certified educator, relative to their salary. In Washington state, teachers need to be officially certified in order to be hired in a public school.

In order to be certified through Whitworth’s education department, an educator has a couple of options. Students can major in elementary education or in a specified content area, such as math or English, for certification at the secondary level. At Whitworth, it costs students a total of at least $144,000 in tuition and fees alone to acquire a bachelor’s degree in education.

It makes no sense that teachers should receive so much less money than professional athletes. Perhaps my bias as an education major is showing, but it seems to me that teachers are among the hardest working people in America.

Teachers establish a foundation for success in future generations. They are responsible for opening the minds of children and adolescents, so they can discover how best to contribute to society in the future. Society would fail without the guidance of educators. In order to continue providing high-quality and consistent education, teachers need to stay in the field of education. Within the first five years of their careers, 46 percent of new teachers quit, according to the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future.

The distribution of salaries in America is wildly off-kilter. If salary patterns continue, teachers will continue to leave the profession and find better ways to support themselves and their families. By increasing the teacher retention rate, our culture will develop more educated, responsible adults to give back to society in the future.

Contact Miranda Cloyd at mcloyd16@my.whitworth.edu

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