Teachers’ Pay—It Needs to Change


Teachers’ pay is a topic that has been debated for decades. It is common knowledge that many teachers in the United States are underpaid and that most spend additional money to purchase their own classroom supplies. There has been improvement on teachers’ salaries over the past few years and several campaigns have been created on the basis of helping teachers pay for school supplies. But it’s not enough.

With the recent developments surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, teachers’ jobs have only become even more difficult, and some are beginning to demand that teachers deserve a higher salary after the threat of the coronavirus recedes.

Average Salary

According to Business Insider, the average salary for a public school teacher in the United States was $60,483 during 2017-2018. Salaries for educators vary by state, and more often than not, teachers working in urban areas receive higher salaries than those in rural areas. Whether they live in Missouri or California, most Americans agree that more money should be spent by the government on childhood education and that public school teachers deserve higher starting salaries. A common belief that many hold is that with higher salaries, the teaching profession will become more appealing to college graduates who may consider going into another field. And the one thing America needs is more teachers.

With the low salary, especially for those in their first-year, teachers are forced to work a second job to make the money they need to survive. For those who have families or are the sole source of income in their household, the situation is even more dire. Between paying almost $500 of their own hard-earned money for classroom supplies, working more hours than the actual school day, and juggling multiple jobs, teachers deserve more.

There has to be room for improvement in teachers’ salaries. The United States may be ranked seventh in the world for average teacher salary, but when compared to Luxembourg, “where elementary school educators make up to $124,000 a year on average, and high school teachers make $138,000 a year,” it is apparent that more needs to be done to compensate teachers.

Impact of the Coronavirus

The impacts of the coronavirus are being felt by many industries and professional fields, and education is no exception. At the moment, teachers may have one of the most difficult jobs of all. With school being cancelled for an extended period of time in some states and for the rest of the year in others, teachers have been thrown for a loop and forced to find alternative ways to teach their students. Some schools have no plan for a situation like this in place, and others are attempting to do everything virtually. 

Across the board, it is agreed that after the coronavirus becomes less of a threat and our country recovers from its effects, teachers must be paid more. Andre M. Perry said it best. “The value of teachers isn’t bought and sold on Wall Street, but it’s finally being recognized by those of us forced to take on their role.” Parents are currently playing “substitute teacher,” and the realization is setting in that perhaps teachers haven’t been receiving the credit they deserve for the work they do. Post-pandemic, the conversation about raising teachers’ salaries is inevitable.

Final Thoughts

Teachers around the country are overworked and underpaid, but hopefully, if anything positive can come out of this frightening pandemic, this will change. 

Teachers’ salaries are not increasing fast enough, and in some areas, they are not even high enough for them to afford to live in the same city they work in. If that isn’t a red flag, I don’t know what is. It is not a surprise to anyone that teachers’ pay continues to be an issue, but it is an issue that is often ignored. However, if this past year’s great number of strikes is an indicator, teachers are tired of being pushed to the side. I can’t blame them. In the end, the only thing that matters is that this problem continues to be discussed because as long as it is on the forefront, it won’t be easy to brush aside.

This post was written by one of U4SC’s Educators 4SC Research Assistants, Samantha.