Never become a teacher in the United States. I never thought I would ever say such a thing. I have a great deal of admiration for teachers at all levels. My mom was a great teacher—so patient! I married a teacher who loved to teach kindergarteners critical thinking. She retired when her school district required her to “teach to the test,” meaning that scoring well on standardized tests was the ultimate goal of her students’ education.
Today, I would never suggest to any young people that they dedicate their lives to the teaching profession for all kinds of reasons. This decision was prompted by a friend who is in her fifties, is trilingual, and has a master’s degree and eight years of experience teaching in Monaco. She applied for a job in the Los Angeles Unified School District. It totally disrespected her as a professional and master teacher. It has made her life hell.
Thus, my tirade and title of this blog post. In this country, we do not honor the teaching profession. We dishonor it. How?
- We don’t pay teachers nearly enough money. After they spend at least four years in school learning how to teach, their salary is often in the $30,000 range. One of my grandsons graduated from four years of college. In the private sector, he received a starting salary of $60,000. My French friend, a single mother of two teenagers, has a starting salary as a teacher in the $30,000 range. This necessitates her finding a second job to pay the bills. As a result, smart young people can’t even consider teaching as a profession. If we want top-notch teaching professionals, we need to start their salaries at $60,000 minimum.
- Teaching is not a 9-to-5 job. It’s more like 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. with catch-up time on the weekends. To pay the bills, many teachers are forced to either go for a master’s degree or join a school’s admin department. Make teaching an 8-to-5 job.
- The teaching profession does not financially assist teachers in furthering their education. Our grandson is not only paid a decent salary, but his business offers to pay for his professional development. We need to do this with teachers.
- Often, superintendents and school principals are paid exorbitant salaries, but teachers—the foundation of any strong country—are paid peanuts in comparison. That needs to change. Professional teachers don’t need lots of administrative personnel.
- Too many times, teachers end up in a bureaucratic maze of laws and rules that slow them down from being able to teach at their maximum skill levels. They spend hours filling out needless, ridiculous forms. Stop it!
- Teachers in a democracy need to teach critical-thinking skills, not how to pass tests.
- No teacher should ever have to buy their own supplies. Make all teaching supplies readily available.
Until our country learns that good teachers are what makes a well-run democracy succeed, and not politicians, we are in trouble. Pay teachers well, and whenever they walk into a classroom all students should stand to honor them for their dedication and profession. (I was raised in that tradition.)
Would you recommend any of your family or friends go into the teaching profession today?
Peace Love Joy Hope
Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash