American teachers demand better pay; former teachers speaking out

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By Herb Scribner 

Teachers educate the country, aiding all ages in the search for education. But as far as salaries and pay goes, some say teachers aren't receiving any help back. That's something that should be changed, according to the Washington Post's recent article "Why teachers' salaries should be doubled - now" by Valerie Strauss.

Most teachers - about 92 percent - are paying for school supplies out of their own pocket, and more than 60 percent are working second jobs, the Washington Post reported. "Is this the way we want any of our teachers to live?" Strauss asked in her article. "Is this what we think will lead students to higher levels of achievement?"

Strauss founded the Teacher Salary Project, a nonprofit organization that evaluates and tries to improve how much teachers are paid. She is a former teacher, too, and recently moved from North Carolina to Maryland for a job worth $12,000 more, the Post reported. She is well aware of the problems teachers face, Strauss wrote in her piece.

"When we undervalue a profession, we also tell the next generation of bright educators they shouldn't bother teaching - or that if they do, they must take a vow of poverty," Strauss wrote. "And students pay a price: Teachers who spend nights and weekends working other jobs cannot possibly devote the necessary attention to their students or lesson plans. Even worse, talented college students who are passionate about teaching, but seeking a stable future, opt out before they even begin. No teacher should have a second job and teachers should struggle less financially so they can focus on their critical work in the classroom."

Teachers' salaries tend to hover between $29,000 and $45,000 for new teachers, and $45,000 to $70,000 for average salaries, according to Teacher Portal, a teaching information website. The data by the National Education Association, as reported by Teacher Portal, shows New York leading the way, with average teacher salaries of $72,708. And demand for higher salaries is rising along with the call for more teachers, especially in Texas and North Carolina.

This might even be a problem internationally, too. South Dakota recently found low teachers' pay to be a crisis, according to the Sioux City Journal. Teachers aren't making enough to live life the way they want.

"It's kind of frustrating when I'm trying to raise a family, trying to have kids, and I looked at my wife and said, 'If I'm going to stay teaching, I'm going to have to depend on you getting the raises, because I'm not going to get it,'" said Kaleb Bowman, a former high school teacher in the Groton Area School District in South Dakota. "The raises we were getting teaching was hardly enough to pay for the extra gas it costs to drive to and from school," he said. "If we wanted more kids, and more mouths to feed, it was just difficult."