I don’t think we realize how valuable K-12 school teachers are. They are a direct investment in the next generation.
For twelve years, they stay with our children for about eight hours every day. They play an important part in getting kids passionate about different subjects, preparing them for the real world, and giving them the tools they need to ask life’s real questions. They also teach us the foundations of knowledge we need to make it through everyday life.
You would think that for such an important job the rewards would be high. However, as many of us know, that is unfortunately not the case.
Teachers’ needs go unheard
The minimum pay for Texas teachers is around $30,000 as a starting salary. In addition to that, that number doesn’t go up very much overtime. Teachers also don’t get much funding for school supplies, causing them to pay out of their salary for necessary supplies.
The needs of teachers have gone unheard during the pandemic. When teachers bring up that they don’t want to teach in person due to feeling unsafe, people have told them to push through and deal with it. Some people have labeled teachers as lazy for not wanting to host in-person classes, despite their education efforts through online learning.
Entitlement from the public
Seeing all the hatred towards teachers right now makes me wonder: Why do we expect so much of teachers when at the same time we treat them so badly?
One reason could be that teachers are public workers, meaning taxes pay them. People can feel entitled and think teachers should jump through hoops for their children simply because they’re paid by the government. This may be why some parents are upset about teachers setting boundaries during the coronavirus pandemic. They may feel like teachers don’t have a right to have an opinion because they get paid, in a sense, by the parents.
Misogyny in the profession
The poor treatment of teachers may also have to do with the fact that it’s a predominantly female profession. Teaching used to be a profession for young women before they got married, and teachers were subject to many harsh regulations.
In the 1920s, there was even a requirement that said teachers could not ride in cars with any man they weren’t related to. So, there is a history of the public seeing teachers as women to be controlled.
People often brush off teachers’ concerns too-easily or view them as overdramatic. Some of them are still stuck in their outdated views of educators. They don’t respect teachers the same way they respect other professionals, and especially professionals in male-dominated fields. When a teacher stands up for themselves, some people feel like they shouldn’t even have a right to speak up.
Misunderstanding of the job
Some people also act like teachers as lazy, as exemplified by the phrase “Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.” They act like teachers have a cushy job because they get holidays and summers off, so they claim that teachers don’t have a right to complain about anything.
In reality, teachers work hours after school ends to create lesson plans and grade papers. They don’t get paid for these extra hours either.
Teachers also don’t get paid during the summer unless their contract covers summer work, or they choose to lessen their paychecks during the school year. However, most teacher contracts only cover ten months.
People have very warped views of teaching jobs now. Whether that be because of entitlement towards public workers, misogyny, or a misunderstanding of their work, but there are no excuses to treat teachers the way we do.
There is no denying that educators are incredibly important. We should respect teachers and advocate for them because of their impact on the future generation of adults, and simply because they’re workers too.