the teacher debate you've been waiting for!

[deleted account] ( 57 moms have responded )

Okay, Mae and Dana! I'm ready! I apologize in advance if this OP is a bit one-sided. I have a hard time seeing the opposite side. But that's what debate is for, right? =)

I hear all the time that teachers need to stop complaining about their pay, because they don't really work that much. Or do they? Sure, the school day (when students are in school) is roughly 7 hours. And teachers get summers off and weekends, fall, winter, and spring break. Or do they?

First of all, compared to other careers that require a college degree, teachers are at the very bottom of the pay scale.

Not terrible, you may say, considering all the breaks. But take into consideration how many extra hours a teacher must work just to get the job done. For teachers, the school day does not end when the bell rings and students leave. Before and after school and on weekends and even holidays you'll find teachers spending hours tweaking lesson plans, grading papers, setting up for class projects, filling out paperwork for students to be evaluated, averaging grades, and the list goes on. If you add all the EXTRA hours a teacher works, then essentially all the breaks do not exist.

But it doesn't end there. Teachers are at the bottom of the pay scale for the education they have and they work at least as much, and in most cases more, than people of other professions. On top of that, most teachers must spend hundreds of dollars of their own money in order to provide quality education. Sure, the IRS allows teachers to claim up to $250. But most teachers spend in excess of that. Why? Because students come to school without the proper supplies needed. Because their districts are suffering budget cuts and can't afford necessary items like novels for an English class, or even worse, copy paper and ink. Because those cute little posters showing punctuation marks on the walls don't magically appear.

I did an informal survey on facebook (I know a lot of teachers). The three teachers that replied said this:

Janee: $300-400 a year... And at least 10 hours a week. Don't get me wrong- I could do my job without the extra work or spending any of my own money, but I do what I do because I WANT to for my kids... And I say that the hours are "unpaid".... But making it "worth it" to my students is great payment!

Amy: I'd say a couple hundred $200 - $300 and about 10-12 hours/week. (What she didn't say is that she is spending time trying to raise money to buy novels for her classroom. She's raised about $300, but needs a couple hundred more)

Courtney: i probably spend a couple hundred dollars a year on stuff for my students and projects, and I'm at school from about 6:35 to 4:00 everyday plus I probably work 8 hours a week at home. That's roughly 55 hours a week at work!

I do not like tha...t I have to supply so much for my job. How many other jobs do people have to buy their own computer equipment, markers, paper clips, calculators, etc?

All that extra time and money is what it takes to be a good teacher, so that's what I do.

I know this is SOOOO long! But I wanted to get my point across. Most teachers I know love their job and their students. They work all the extra hours and spend their own money because it is what is best for the students. Sure, they could do the minimum....go home when the bell rings, never grace the halls of the school during break, and not get anything for their classrooms. But where would that leave the students? So that is where we're at. Thoughts?

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Mae - posted on 08/19/2010




My thought on pay for teachers as with any job most people know how much money teaching pays and most know that there is out of pocket expenses, and yet they still take the job and complain about the pay. I think if you take a job and it pays crap and you know that before you start then you have no room to complain about pay. When there is a shortage as there has been in the past of teachers willing to work for crap pay then districts will start paying more. A school is a business at its core and they will get the workers as cheap as possible just like Wal-Mart does. My husband makes 40 % of what the teachers he works with make and we have the bills and a 2 year old, he works overtime all the time but since he is salary it doen't pay extra. He knew this when he was hired and he accepts it because he loves his job and it pays enough to get us by with a little extra. Also in the local area the teachers are given extra money every year to pay for the supplies they buy.
I guess my whole point is you can't accept the job knowing the pay and requirements and then complain.

[deleted account]

I like the "bonuses" idea. Maybe that would be better than merit pay? I don't know. I'll have to think about it. But yes, the base pay SHOULD be higher.

Rosie - posted on 08/19/2010




i do like the idea of pay for how well they teach, but overall their base salary is crap. i simply get confused as to how a man can go to business school and become a billionaire, but the person who taught him how to do business makes less than $40,000 a year. maybe bonuses based off the things that you guys stated, parental reviews, work ethic, and general observations within the class.

Meghan - posted on 08/19/2010




I was a little rushed, you're right Sara, not JUST test scores but yea observations, work ethic (we used to get "graded" on that), parent reviews would be great! I am glad someone else agrees, I was a little nervous for some reason about offending anyone!

[deleted account]

Meghan, I think you partially have the right idea. I wouldn't base pay on test scores though. That would lead to what we call "teaching to the test". That means teaching only what will be tested and teaching testing skills. (which is not a bad thing, but I think we can agree that there is much more to a good education than that.) I also suspect that cheating will increase. Every year there seems to be at least one teacher fired over helping their students cheat on standardized tests. I don't think merit pay is a bad idea, but it shouldn't be solely based on test scores. Maybe a combo of that, observations by principals and outside sources (the state ed dept), parent reviews, and a time card. And probably some other stuff I can't think of. Thoughts on that?

Meghan - posted on 08/19/2010




I had some really GREAT teachers and I had some not so great teachers. Personally I think that teachers should get paid based on students test scores...great teachers will get what they deserve, not so good teachers will get exactly what they deserve!

Cassie - posted on 08/19/2010




As a teacher who just went to the store yesterday and spent a little over $100 on supplies that my students need that won't be supplied to them, I fully agree that we are often underpaid, under-appreciated, and under-supported.

On top of that, in Ohio we are required to get our Master's degree (without much of a difference in pay) to keep our teaching license. That's an additional debt increase of thousands of dollars without the salary to pay it back in a reasonable manner or time frame.

We do it all for the kids (your kids if they attend public school) and will continue making these sacrifices.

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