Sunday, August 19, 2018

Kim Frencken: Do teachers need higher pay?

Do teachers need higher pay?

That sounds like a silly question. Who doesn't need or want higher pay? But I can't help but wonder if more qualified people would choose teaching as a career if the pay was more competitive. Notice I said qualified because without this adjective the answer would be YES. I want to know how many who are truly qualified would still choose teaching over other careers. Or would higher pay attract people who really didn't want to teach, but choose to teach only because of the money they would earn?

I'm afraid that people would start viewing teaching as a career or a profession. True, that it what most of us consider it to be, but we all consider it something else as well. If we didn't teach.... what would we do? If there is nothing you'd rather be doing than teaching, you've been called. If you have multiple career choices and are only looking at the highest paid, keep looking.

Now, for the hard part. Yes, teachers need to be paid as professionals. Not minimum wage earners. Some might find this harsh, but without teachers where would every other profession be? Exactly. Teachers put up with many things: not being treated like professionals, long hours, donating their $$$$ to their own classroom, not being paid like a professional, and the list goes on and on.

Some will argue that other professions have pitfalls. I'm sure this is true but I can only speak about what I know. Some will argue that teachers get the summer off. If you really believe this you don't know a teacher. Summers off is a myth. Something that you see on TV or read in a fiction novel.

Did you know that many teachers supplement their income with second or third jobs? Many teachers do seasonal work during their summer or winter breaks. I've had an administrator that preferred that the teachers in his building didn't work anywhere else. I think this was because I wouldn't have time to work a second job, during the school year, unless it was on a week-end. Many school days lasted from 7:30 am to 9:30 pm. Not much time to squeeze in another job!

Many teachers work online from home. Some have opened teacher stores. And we come under attack for that. Someone suggested that teachers should not be selling their original curriculum. They should be giving it away. How many lawyers offer free consultations and services? How many doctors will perform a surgery without charging? Do you tip the server at your favorite restaurant? Why shouldn't a teacher offer her original lessons to others on a paid site? We spend hours creating lessons to challenge our students. Is there any reason why we shouldn't charge for our resource? I do give my friends lessons. I wouldn't dream of charging them. But, I also sell resources in my teacher stores. It is another source of income, not just for me, but for many other educators.

What do you think? Would higher pay attract more people to education or more teachers to education?

(For more of Kim Frencken's writing, check out her blog, Chocolate For The Teacher.)



Some of my best writing on educational issues and my experiences in the classroom, Let Teachers Teach is available locally at Changing Hands Book Shoppe and Always Buying Books in Joplin and Pat's Books in Carthage and in paperback and e-book formats from Amazon at the links below.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I don’t know exactly how much teachers make in our area. I’m not even sure what the entry level educational requirements are. I assume it’s at least a 4 year degree. I think teachers should make something equitable to other careers requiring a 4 year degree. There’s a lot of blood, sweat and tears getting that degree, something a lot of people can’t or won’t do. I also think salary increases generally should be given along the same terms other professions are rewarded, such as further education, merit, and increased responsibilities. If entry level is comparable to other professions, that should ease the concern of some going solely for the money. In fact, having a comparable salary could actually tip the scales favorably toward teaching in those would want to be teachers but also want a decent income in their future.

The other side of the coin is not so clear cut in my mind. The official required work hours for teachers is quit attractive. Teachers with families get the same days off as their school children. Perhaps those who haven’t worked other jobs while a parent are accustomed to this and don’t realize what a perk that truly is. Heck, even daycare hours are perfect for a teacher. I accept teachers do put in a lot of hours in preparation for their classes. I have no idea how many, but I have a hard time believing it totals 40/hours per week, 52/weeks a year like other professions. The actual number would need to be known to actually determine their hourly rate of pay and compare to others.

I can’t imagine why anyone would object to teachers selling their lessons. The experience and hard work producing them should be compensated, just like anyone else selling their work product.

This may sound harsh, but hope you can consider. It’s time teachers stop beating their chest and crying about all they sacrifice. Teaching is a profession. Act like a professional. You graduated college. Your body of knowledge is based on scientific research. You carry a tremendous amount of responsibility molding and shaping our future. You are trusted and respected. You are irreplaceable. Stop being a martyr and start being an advocate, a role model to be emulated. Be proactive and produce research proving how many hours you work outside the classroom. Show how much your actual hourly wage breaks down to. Show how much of your own money you spend on supplies. Give people the nuts and bolts, real numbers. That’s something factual for people to grasp, rather than the abstract of how much you sacrifice. Perhaps I’m wrong, but what you’re doing isn’t working.