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.

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels
True

Increasingly customers are looking for more conscious shopping options. According to a Nielsen survey in 2018, nearly half (48%) of U.S. consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.

But while many consumers are interested in spending their money on products that are more sustainable, few actually follow through. An article in the 2019 issue of Harvard Business Review revealed that 65% of consumers said they want to buy purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability, but only about 26% actually do so. It's unclear where this intention gap comes from, but thankfully it's getting more convenient to shop sustainably from many of the retailers you already support.

Amazon recently introduced Climate Pledge Friendly, "a new program to help make it easy for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products." When you're browsing Amazon, a Climate Pledge Friendly label will appear on more than 45,000 products to signify they have one or more different sustainability certifications which "help preserve the natural world, reducing the carbon footprint of shipments to customers," according to the online retailer.

Amazon

In order to distinguish more sustainable products, the program partnered with a wide range of external certifications, including governmental agencies, non-profits, and independent laboratories, all of which have a focus on preserving the natural world.

Keep Reading Show less

Katie Schieffer is a mom of a 9-year-old who was recently diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes after spending some time in the ICU. Diabetes is a nuisance of a disease on its own, requiring blood sugar checks and injections of insulin several times a day. It can also be expensive to maintain—especially as the cost of insulin (which is actually quite inexpensive to make) has risen exponentially.

Schieffer shared an emotional video on TikTok after she'd gone to the pharmacy to pick up her son's insulin and was smacked with a bill for $1000. "I couldn't pay for it," she says through tears in the video. "I now have to go in and tell my 9-year-old son I couldn't pay for it."

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels
True

Increasingly customers are looking for more conscious shopping options. According to a Nielsen survey in 2018, nearly half (48%) of U.S. consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.

But while many consumers are interested in spending their money on products that are more sustainable, few actually follow through. An article in the 2019 issue of Harvard Business Review revealed that 65% of consumers said they want to buy purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability, but only about 26% actually do so. It's unclear where this intention gap comes from, but thankfully it's getting more convenient to shop sustainably from many of the retailers you already support.

Amazon recently introduced Climate Pledge Friendly, "a new program to help make it easy for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products." When you're browsing Amazon, a Climate Pledge Friendly label will appear on more than 45,000 products to signify they have one or more different sustainability certifications which "help preserve the natural world, reducing the carbon footprint of shipments to customers," according to the online retailer.

Amazon

In order to distinguish more sustainable products, the program partnered with a wide range of external certifications, including governmental agencies, non-profits, and independent laboratories, all of which have a focus on preserving the natural world.

Keep Reading Show less
Kristen Wilson/Twitter, Ian Bremmer/Twitter (Photo by Ashley Gilbertson)

As more footage from last week's attack on the U.S. Capitol comes out, we're getting a fuller picture of what took place that day. And frankly, it's terrifying.

We've now seen the gallows erected outside of the Capitol and the rioters shouting "Hang Mike Pence!" We've seen reports of insurrectionists carrying zip tie restraints and now know how close we were to possibly witnessing lawmakers being taken hostage—or worse—live on TV. We've seen journalists attacked, a policeman dragged down steps and beaten with an American flag, and feces and urine left in the hallways and offices of the U.S. Capitol.

One piece of footage that has emerged shows how one Capitol Police officer's bravery may have saved members of the U.S. Senate. Officer Eugene Goodman found himself alone and confronted with a mob forcing him backwards up a stairway within the Capitol. Video from HuffPost reporter Igor Bobic shows Goodman attempting to hold back the rioters, but he is clearly outnumbered. They keep pushing him farther and farther up the stairs, toward the floor where the Senate chambers are.

Keep Reading Show less

Nearly a year into the deadliest pandemic in a century, the U.S. is still battling not only the virus, but Americans living in denial of reality as well.

Take this video of a group of anti-maskers who stood in front of a Trader Joe's entrance and tried to argue that they had every right to shop there without masks. The woman narrating the video states that they have "a right to commerce" (they don't—there's literally no such right), that Trader Joe's doesn't have the right to require masks (they do—it's their store), that the mandate to wear masks in public places can't be enforced because it's not a real law (it can—), and that they were not there to demonstrate, but just to buy groceries (umm, right).

The manager, to his credit, did what he could to calmly talk with these people while also making it clear that they were not going to enter the store without a mask.

"The point you're trying to make isn't going to be made with us," he said. "It can be made with your government...I am not here to debate policy. I totally respect for you to think anything you want to think...my job, as manager of the store is to enforce the mandate, whether you believe in it or not."


Keep Reading Show less