This blog is going way outside the realm of what I normally write about, but this topic is important to me.
We need teachers more than ever right now and our needs do not align with the priorities of governments, or even private institutions’ agendas or budgets.
My wife was a teacher for 13 years and left teaching a few years back when we moved to San Antonio. She was burned out and the pay is just not that great. She wasn’t sure how long of a break she was going to take, but then COVID hit and she decided to homeschool our kids for a year. Then last year she decided to be a substitute teacher as they were in dire need. She ended up teaching almost every day for the entire school year, which is ludicrous as she was making half the amount of a full-time teacher but working basically full-time on two different long-term substitute positions.
Fast forward to this year, she decided to return full-time. She thoroughly enjoys her job and I’m excited for her and also excited that she is helping to relieve the shortage pressure, even if she is just one person.
But she, and likely all teachers, certainly doesn’t do it for the money. As a 13-year teacher, she makes 10% more than the brand new and 10% less than the 25-year teacher. It isn’t that Texas doesn’t pay well. If you look at the North East where the schools are highly rated and taxes are much higher, they aren’t marginally different. Also, while inflation is high her district could only muster up a 2% raise. But she does get a $150 stipend for supplies, with a catch. She can’t buy anything she can keep, only consumables like paper. That means the school doesn’t supply a stapler and nor can she use the stipend. They are afraid she might keep the stapler when she quits.
The pay is where the problem begins and why there is a teacher shortage. During the blistering job market, teachers left in droves. They found jobs that paid significantly more and they were able to leverage their skills in other ways. Add those that decided to retire a bit early and not teach through COVID and it is a recipe for disaster.
Their newfound job is equivalent to getting a taste of blood.
If you left a teaching job and doubled your pay, you wouldn’t be hot to trot to go back.
While I have tons of opinions on how to fix the problem, I will save you from a much longer post. Instead, I would like to ask that you simply recognize that we collectively undervalue teachers. They are never going to get financially rich off teaching. We have to rely on knowing that they will get emotionally rich.
Teachers are the key to the success of the next generation and the generations after that. We need them and need to thank each and every one of them.