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The Benefits of Increasing Teacher Pay

— June 29, 2021

There is a serious threat to the future of our children. It is the severe shortage of teachers. Urban districts are particularly at risk due to their increased student population. The culprit is obvious: meager pay.

We’ve been raised to believe that teaching is a vocation; that to be a teacher is to be a modern-day hero. Why is that? 

One common explanation is that it’s a thankless job. It’s hard. It carries the heavy burden of the future. Lastly, despite these, it doesn’t pay well. 

It shouldn’t be that way. We believe that increasing teacher pay is not just a great way to show educators the appreciation that they rightfully deserve, but it also has several benefits in store. In fact, here are some of them:

Increasing Teacher Pay Strengthens the Pipeline

One of the most pressing issues that education is facing is the steadily decreasing rate of people who want to be teachers. A survey done by TIME revealed that pay is a crucial factor. 61% of the respondents believe that teachers are widely underpaid. Meanwhile, 76% strongly agree that teaching is an unpopular choice as a profession because of its low pay.

We are already experiencing the repercussions. A more recent poll revealed that there is a shortage of more than 100,000 teachers across the United States. 

Some states are doing worse than others, like California and Nevada. Projections estimate that these numbers are going to fall much worse in the near future if the system doesn’t change. 

Increasing teacher pay will significantly help. Not only will it secure more interest in the profession, but it will also increase the quality of the future workforce. 

Keeps Teachers in the Classroom

Another facet of the problem that we have presented above is the number of teachers leaving the profession. And we don’t just mean that teachers are switching schools in hope of transferring to better-paying districts. An alarming rate of educators is actually leaving the profession entirely each year.

Image of Children at a Daycare
Children in a classroom; image courtesy of Airman 1st Class Hunter Brady via Wikimedia Commons,

Again, a wage increase will help dissuade teachers from switching industries. As an added benefit, doing so will also increase the quality of graduates. Apparently, there is a direct link between teacher turnover rates and student performance. According to one study, teacher turnovers disrupt student-teacher and parent-teacher relationships that can weaken our students’ academic support. Aside from that, mid-year turnovers can result in a loss of up to 70 school days.

Fewer Teachers Working Second Jobs

The only “benefit” to these challenges is the assurance that most of the teachers who remain within the profession stay because they want to. Teaching for them is more than a profession. It’s their passion and purpose in life.

However, keep in mind that even these resilient heroes need money to survive and support their families. This forces a lot of our teachers to look for other sources of income just to make ends meet. Unfortunately, this will also inevitably deviate their attention from their actual job that can then result in significant drops in teaching performance.

In most cases that is normal for teachers to look for a job during the summer break. There are some school districts that take 10 months of pay and spread it over 12 months. In this case, technically the teacher is getting paid during the summer break. Still, many people are looking for summer jobs for teachers, in order to have additional income during the break. 

If a teacher’s salary is more than enough for her/his needs, then he/she won’t have a reason to work a second job anymore. 

Helps to Staff in Urban Districts

Schools in urban districts are in trouble. Sure, there’s a shortage of teachers wherever you go but urban schools have significantly higher student populations. 

But there is a solution to make up for the difference between the number of staff and students. A study published by the Stanford Center for Education Policy Analysis points out that a salary increase will not only improve a school’s attractiveness in the labor market but will also raise the quality of teacher applicants.

Final Thoughts

There is a serious threat to the future of our children. It is the severe shortage of teachers. Urban districts are particularly at risk due to their increased student population. The culprit is obvious: meager pay.

Fortunately, the solution is rather straightforward as well. 

To sum up, here are some of the benefits of increasing teacher pay:

  • It will encourage more students to consider teaching as a potential profession, not just because they want to teach, but they are also confident that it will get them the salary that they deserve.
  • It will discourage current teachers to switch industries. As a related benefit, this will also prevent class disruptions and weakened academic support for students.
  • A salary increase will also decrease the number of teachers needing supplemental income. This will give them more time to focus on their lessons and their students.
  • Finally, a substantial salary increase in urban districts might persuade teachers to go to areas where they are particularly needed such as urban districts and the like.

These are just some of the benefits of increasing our teachers’ salaries. There are definitely other points worth exploring. Regardless, though, this much is clear: we can’t keep underpaying our educators without putting the future of our children at risk.

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