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The Student News Site of Santa Rosa Academy

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Why are American Teachers so Underpaid?

Why are teachers in our modern school system so underpaid?

To get an answer to this question first, there must be an understanding of how this situation started and became a crisis. This crisis began back in 1635 when the first American public school was established when teachers were thought of to be not important or needed. Since the beginning of the modern schooling system, there has been this idea that you don’t have to be smart or that the job is not very complex. Comparing teaching to being as difficult as an accountant working with numbers, this is a view that we hold as a society about teachers.

Tired and stressed teacher in a classroom. The teacher seems to be visually impaired, representing how most teachers feel daily. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The actual reason for teachers being so underpaid and undervalued is a complex mix of factors. These factors such as low pay the decline in education funding the wage gap between teachers and other jobs with the same levels of education along with little public appreciation and support. According to the results from my web search, here are some facts and figures that illustrate the situation. Fact one Teachers make about 20% less than other professionals with similar education and experience. Fact two In many parts of the country, teachers live below the family living wage.

Another troubling factor that contributed to this crisis was the Great Recession of 2008 which reduced the available resources for the public particularly teachers and education systems along with salaries and allocated funding/grants for these said systems/teachers crippling these institutions. Currently, 29 states are spending less per student on average in a recent 2015 study adjusted for inflation before the recession according to a Time study.

Probably one of the least talked about problems in teaching and the wider education system is depersonalization inadequate pay time and resource allocation which cripples teachers and their abilities to perform their job and other duties. Teachers are made to feel small without much support having to play multiple roles teacher, daycare caretaker, therapist, parent, friend, and disciplinarian on the daily. Along with certain unsafe work conditions, environments, and too big class sizes, why should one teacher manage 40 students?

This image shows Denver teachers striking for better pay and benefits.

Overall these dire conditions weaken the profession making recruiting and keeping qualified teachers over the years a nightmare in some senses for schools along with low-pay schools where most families are on food stamps or some sort of government assistance. How should teachers provide students with a sound education in this current climate?

Some other startling metrics show that Up to a quarter of teachers leave the profession every year and about 20% resort to second jobs. Teachers also have a “wage penalty” basically how much fewer teachers make than other workers grew from 5.5% in 1979 to a record 18.7% in 2017 According to the Conversation. An insane starling shows no state does teacher pay equal or exceeds pay for other college graduates. These problems create an innate problem with modern-day education which affects our educators and youth. But most frightening these statistics show how undervalued and underpaid our teachers are currently.

How did the COVID-19 pandemic affect our teachers? The pandemic affected teachers by forcing teachers to adapt to this strange new academic landscape. This new landscape forced teachers to constantly switch between in-person and hybrid learning creating stress and questions of job security for teachers and completely new remote learning models having to learn new technologies. Along with dealing with new health concerns also face emotional impacts such as the loss of loved ones, coping with trauma feeling isolated and not feeling supported while also exacerbating many existing issues in teaching such as being understaffed and student behavior. Due to these challenges, many teachers considered leaving the profession entirely.

Teaching from home to young students while in quarantine lockdown due to Covid-19 outbreak. (Getty Images)

But to get more of a hands-on view of this problem I spoke to certain teachers what I found was pretty damning.

One of these shocking truths for teachers being so underpaid is a homegrown problem that districts want to keep the percentage of profits rather than give money to teachers. The Menifee Union School District is guilty of this crime as according to my anonymous sources the District promised a budget increase of around 5 percent and only gave around 2-3 percent to teachers preferring to keep the rest of the money for the district quote on quote. How is this right to promise teachers an increase in budget and pay and then choose to keep the money for themselves this is not ethical teachers nationwide have to deal with this problem where districts promise budget increases/pay increases seemingly overpromising and under-delivering not being honest with our teachers. This is frankly disgusting that is even allowed in our school.

American teachers in the end are extremely underpaid and undervalued which makes things insanely hard for educators to educate their students. The way it works for teachers is that at the end of the school year teachers are exhausted being mentally and physically drained with no energy coming home and crying. Qs the son of a teacher I vividly remember times throughout the school year particularly at the end of the year when my mom would come home and cry from the pure exhaustion and emptiness. She felt this just from how draining the job can be at times not to say my she doesnt love the job but this is just one prime example of how draining teaching can be at certain times throughout the year.

Honestly in my heart of hearts I feel the way teachers are treated in our school and nationwide is utterly awful teachers deserve us as students deserve better. We deserve smaller class sizes, bigger classrooms, bigger budgets for teachers, paid leave, more educational resources, and help from schools. Honestly at the end of the day


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About the Contributor
Che Marroquin
Che Marroquin, Staff Writer
Che’ Marroquin is a Sophomore who wrestles for Santa Rosa Academy He has been attending Santa Rosa Academy for 11 years. His wrestling weight class is currently undecided but he has wrestled at 182, 195 and 215 before. Outside of school, Che’ enjoys Dungeons and Dragons, computer games, 3-D modeling, and playing guitar. Che’ is an outstanding student with a 3.5 grade point average. In his time, away from school and sports, Che’ enjoys listening to music, spending time with his family and playing Dungeons and Dragons with friends on the weekends. 
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