"Teachers in our Public Schools Need More Pay" (Opinion Piece from the LCDP's May Newsletter)
From the LCDP May 2018 Newsletter
Article by Martha Robinson
An article in the New York Times (Apr. 23, 2018 by Paul Krugman) says that while “the federal government non-defense spending can basically be thought of as an insurance plan, with monies for social security, Medicare and Medicaid, state and local budgets are basically used for public education, …police and fire departments.” The author argues that when “hard-line conservatives come to power in states with the premise that tax cuts will bring in revenue for education, the opposite occurs.” Teachers and students hurt as a result, with teachers often having to buy supplies to use in their classrooms. (The Lancaster News has been collecting books for a large book sale to help teachers in Chester and Lancaster counties buy supplying newspapers for students to read.) The article continues to emphasize that teachers salaries have fallen on average across the nation. Teachers are presently making 23 PERCENT LESS THAN OTHER COLLEGE GRADUATES, in addition to this, they are now having to pay a larger portion of their health insurance and other benefits, sometimes having to work a part-time job to supplement their income. (The average teaching salary in South Carolina is about $48, 000 dollars, with starting salaries around $30,000) I have two sisters who are teachers and both have had to take part-time jobs on the side; this is not uncommon. An NPR poll taken reveals that most teachers are struggling economically.
In The Greenville News ( Paul Hyde, March 30, 2018) reports that teacher shortages may well become worse as this trend continues. An article in The State ( Jamie Self, Oct 28, 2017) states that in 2016, 6500 teachers ( a 21% increase from the previous year) did not return to their former positions when the new school year started. Many have left teaching for more much better-paying jobs. In this article one teacher says that she teaches because teachers “care about the future, our democracy...but you have to take care of our teachers if you want to take care of our kids.”
Teaching is a true labor of love. I am told that it is also a much harder job than it once was, involving state and federal mandates without supportive funding for such. Teachers don’t just impart knowledge, they model character, and are also often on the front lines when it comes to spotting a troubled child, and may go to great lengths to help. It is clear that teaching and other service professions like social work, nursing, first responders, and police, are not appreciated nearly enough. And it takes a teacher to teach other service professionals! A teacher’s day does not end when he or she leaves work—it is often a fifty-hour a week job. One can hope that more strikes, like the ones in Kentucky, West Virginia, Arizona, and Oklahoma, and like the one in Colorado, during which teachers ask for more funds for education, will make public school teachers’ struggles more visible.