It's long past time for teachers to be compensated for the work they actually do

When people talk about teacher salaries, they often talk about teacher schedules—or what they think are their work schedules. Depending on where you live, school hours might go from 8:00 to 2:30. And teachers are usually contracted for around 180 days a year. With a 6 or 7 hour work day and summers and holiday breaks off, aren't teachers making decent money for the hours they work?

Umm, no.

The assumption some people make is that teachers only work their contracted hours, but that's simply not true for most teachers. One teacher broke down the extra hours she puts in beyond her contract and estimated that she actually works 42 hours a week, and actually works 250 days per year. That's a pretty normal, full-time job, for which she only gets paid part-time wages. Scholastic reported that a survey of 10,000 teachers found that most work 10 to 11 hour work days, with those who advise extracurricular activities clocking even more than that.

Salaries for teachers vary a lot by state, but according to Business Insider, in the majority of school districts starting salaries for a new teacher is less than $40,000 a year. In 300 districts, it's less than $30,000. If we consider that teachers do work full-time hours, that's less than the proposed $15 per hour we've seen proposed as a minimum wage.


My brother currently works as an art teacher. I've seen his pandemic hybrid school schedule—in addition to photos of him up planning at 1:30 am—and it's absolutely bananas. Having been a teacher myself, I'm familiar with the amount of work teachers put in beyond school hours—and not just in terms of time, but in emotional labor.

Teaching itself—as in instructing students on how to write essays, how to do algebra, how to analyze history—is somewhat of a challenge with dozens of unique students, but that's not really the hard part of teaching. The hard part is caring about those dozens of students on a personal level, advocating for them in a system of standardization and testing that doesn't acknowledge their unique gifts, dealing with parents who take out their parenting frustrations on the school, and feeling like society doesn't value your work even though you know it's vitally important.

And the real kicker is that the system would suffer greatly if teachers only worked the hours they are paid to work and only used the resources they are provided. We've created a culture in which teachers are expected to work sacrificially, which is ridiculous. Teachers are skilled professionals. They deserve to be paid as if their time, knowledge, skills and experience are exceptionally valuable because they are.

Of course, there are plenty of jobs where people work beyond their expected work hours. But such jobs usually come with bonus incentives or high-paying salaries or some other perks that make up for it. It's like teachers are expected to see the rewarding nature of working with kids as enough—but that expectation doesn't account for the fact that working with kids is as stressful as it is rewarding.

Sometimes it feels like we as a society take advantage of the fact that teachers care so much. Generally speaking, people who go into teaching do it for the right reasons—to help kids learn and grow. It's a job that requires an emotional investment in order to do it well. We know that good teachers are going to be good teachers whether we pay them well or not. They're going to put in the hours and make the sacrifices regardless, and our system exploits that dedication in so many ways.

I've worked in a lot of different jobs, and teaching in a public school was by far the most challenging work I've done. I loved it, but it was hard. I know a man who worked as a garbage collector and in sawmills and the logging industry for 30 years before he became a high school math teacher. He says teaching is the hardest job he's ever had. Long hours, 6 to 7 days a week. Rewarding and meaningful work, of course, but definitely not easy.

It's time to stop expecting the work itself to be the reward and acknowledge that teachers deserve not just decent but competitive incomes. Teachers shouldn't have to be saints or martyrs—they deserve to have their work recognized with salaries that reflect their real value. I haven't taught in a classroom in more than two decades, so I have no skin in the game myself in saying that I think teachers should be paid bucketloads of money. Not just the average for their education and skill level, but beyond it.

In paying teachers extremely well, we would retain more good teachers who leave the job for financial reasons and we would recruit more top people to the profession. We would show as a society that we truly value education and see it as the best investment in the future. And we would all be the better for it.

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2020 was difficult (to say the least). The year was full of life changes, losses, and lessons as we learned to navigate the "new normal." You may have questions about what the changes and challenges of 2020 mean for your taxes. That's where TurboTax Live comes in, making it easy to connect with real tax experts to help with your taxes – or even do them for you, start to finish.

Not only has TurboTax Live helped millions of people get their taxes done right, but this year they've also celebrated people who uplifted their communities during a difficult time by surprising them with "little lifts" to help out even more.

Here are a few of their stories:


Julz, hairdresser and salon owner

"As a hairdresser and salon owner, 2020 was extremely challenging," says Julz. "Being a hairdresser has historically been a recession-proof industry, but we've never faced global shut down due to health risk, or pandemic, not in my lifetime. And for the first time, hairdressers didn't have job security."

Julz had to shut down her salon and go on unemployment benefits for the first time. She also had to figure out how she was going to support herself, her staff and her business during this difficult time. But many other beauty industry professionals didn't have access to the resources they needed, so Julz decided to help.

"My business partner and I began teaching basic financial literacy to other beauty industry professionals," she says. "Transitioning our business from behind the chair to an online academy was a challenge we tackled head-on so that we could move hairdressers into this new space of education, and create a more accessible curriculum to better serve our industry.

Julz connected with a TurboTax Live expert who helped her understand how unemployment affected her taxes and gave her guidance on filing quarterly estimated taxes for her small business. "I was terrified to sit at a computer and tackle this mess of receipts," Julz says, so "it was great to have some virtual handholding to walk me through each question."

In addition to giving Julz the personalized tax advice she needed, TurboTax Live surprised her with a "little lift" that empowered her to help even more beauty professionals. "When my tax expert Diana surprised me with a little lift, I was moved to tears," says Julz. "With that little lift, I was able to establish a scholarship fund to help get other hairdressers the education they deserve."


Alana, new mom

Alana welcomed her first child in 2020. "I think my biggest challenge was figuring out how to be a mom, with no guidance," she says. "My original plan was to have my mom by my side, teaching me the ropes, but because of COVID, she wasn't able to come out here."

She was also without a job for most of 2020 and struggled to find something new.

So, Alana took it as a sign: she decided to launch her own business so she could support her new baby, and that's exactly what she did. She started a feel-good company that specializes in creating affirmation card decks — and she's currently in the process of starting a second, video-editing business.

TurboTax Live answered Alana's questions about her taxes and gave her some much-needed advice as she prepared to launch her businesses. Thanks to their "little lift," they provided her with a little emotional support too.

"I got my mom a plane ticket to finally [have her] meet [my daughter] for her first birthday," Alana says. "I was also able to get a new computer," which helped her invest in her new business and work on her video editing skills. "It's helped my family and me so much," she says.


Michael, science teacher

When schools shut down across the country last year, Michael had to learn how to adapt to a virtual classroom.

"As a teacher, I had to completely revamp everything," he says, so that he could keep his students engaged while teaching online. "At the beginning, it was a nightmare because I had no idea. I had to go from A-Z within a couple of weeks."

Michael's TurboTax Live expert answered his questions about how working from home affected his taxes and helped him uncover surprising tax deductions. To top it all off, his expert surprised him with brand new science equipment and supplies, which allowed him to create an entire line of classes on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook. "Now I can truly potentially reach millions of children with my lessons," he says. "I would never have taken that leap if not for the little lift from TurboTax Live."



Ricky, motivational youth speaker

As a motivational speaker, Ricky was used to doing his job in person, but, he says, "when COVID-19 hit, it altered my ability to travel and visit schools in person [because] schools moved to fully virtual or hybrid models."

He knew he had to pivot — so he began offering small virtual group workshops for student leadership groups at middle and high schools.

"This allowed me to work with student leaders to plan how they would continue making a positive impact on their school community," he says. He wasn't sure how being remote would affect his taxes, but TurboTax Live Self-Employed gave him the advice and answers that he needed to keep more money in his pocket at tax time — and the little lift he received from them has helped him serve even more students.

"[It] has been a major blessing," he says "There will be multiple schools and student groups from across the country that I can hold leadership workshops with to empower them with the tools to be inspirational leaders in their school, community, and world."

Plus, he says, it was great knowing he had an expert to help him figure out how being remote affected his taxes. "I felt confident and assured in the process of filing my taxes knowing I had an expert working with me, says Ricky. "There were things my expert knew that I would not have considered when filing on my own."

Filing your taxes doesn't have to be intimidating, especially after a year like 2020. TurboTax Live experts can give you the "little lift" you need to get your taxes done. File with the help of an expert or let an expert file for you! Go to TurboTax Live to get started.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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