Everyone knows that teaching is not the most lucrative profession, but thankfully many choose it anyway. Most who do are called to the profession. They teach because they love it. They thrive when children realize they can do something they didn’t think they could. They live for the moments when children find their wings, wings the teacher knew they had all along. That, however, does not make the pay ok. So why do teachers feel the need to post those cute little sayings like “I teach for the outcome, not the income.”? Men and women in other professions love their jobs as well, and get paid commensurate with their education and experience. Shouldn’t teachers?
When we tell the world we do it for the love, not the money, we are telling them it is ok to keep paying us what they do. It is not. We are highly educated professionals with specific skills and experiences that allow us to be successful at our jobs. Additionally, our jobs are vital to the economy and society. Why should people foot the bill to pay us more if we don’t seem to care that we are paid poorly?
Don’t get me wrong. When I see a post like “I’m a teacher. Instead of making money I decided to make a difference!”, I know that he or she is trying to say, “Being a positive influence on young minds is more important than being well compensated.” I agree whole heartedly. But someone else can read the same statement as “You don’t need to pay me more because making a difference in the life of child is enough compensation.”
You may be in a position to teach even with the low pay. You don’t have trouble making ends meet because you have other sources of income or you’ve secured a position that pays better than some. But not everyone who is qualified and wants to teach is in that position. Early educators, who work with children ages birth to 5, often get paid the same as fast food workers. This is true even when early educators have an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in education. If a teacher leaves the profession because she can’t support her family on the salary that is offered, does that make her less passionate? Recently a senator from Kentucky voted against a bill to raise teacher salaries saying that the low salaries made sure that only people who are called to the profession would teach. Do we want to support this mentality?
I hope that you will continue to post sayings about the wonderful profession that we have been called to, just avoid making it seem like the wages don’t matter.