Are Teachers Being Taken for Granted?


Sophia Chen and Seth Whipple

Teachers are responsible for educating students, which is an essential part of fostering the future of our society. Yet, despite the vital role of teachers, their salaries remain fairly low. Do teachers deserve more than they are being given?

In the United States, teacher pay is unequal across the country. Teacher pay is determined by the states and districts in which they work, and there are large disparities in teacher salaries even within the same state. According to a 2016 report from the Economic Policy Institute (SA Allegretto and L Mishel), the gap in teacher salaries across the United States is widening. This expanding gap is negatively affecting the morale and job satisfaction of teachers, making them feel undervalued and underappreciated for their hard work and dedication to their students. For the education system to be equitable and effective, the gap in teacher salaries across the United States must be addressed and narrowed.

To make extra money, teachers can be department heads or sponsor certain clubs and activities that offer salary stipends. While some people may view this as a great solution to compensating teachers for their time and work, in reality, the stipends are still lacking. Mr. David Holland, an AP Government teacher at THS, is the department chair of social studies; looking at the VBCPS High School Department Chair Supplements list, we estimate that Mr. Holland receives a yearly stipend of around $1,050. During his interview, he estimated that he probably spends about an hour of his time weekly fulfilling this role. Assuming he never spends more than an hour a week completing this job, we can assume that he earns around $25-$30 a week from this stipend. Now, $25-$30 for an hour’s work isn’t bad, but when you combine that with the fact that this stipend remains the same even if he has to contribute more than an hour a week to being the department chair, this amount becomes fleeting. You may be especially surprised to hear that high school head football coaches in VBCPS only receive a base pay supplement of $7,000. This kind of compensation is ridiculous and hardly fair.

“If you’re doing something like football…those kinds of commitments, especially for the time that they’re putting in, it’s hard to say that kind of compensation is fair. It’s basically a part-time job on top of your full-time job,” said Mr. Holland.

Even though the roles of teachers have a great impact on the student’s education, there has been no compensation for the additional emotional support and responsibilities that are tagged along with this profession. Some of the students have experienced the various responsibilities and tasks of a teacher through Virginia’s Teachers for Tomorrow program. With experience through internships, these students faced the uncompensated reality of being a teacher.

“Caring for students’ wellbeing isn’t talked about much, but I do know teachers receive training to keep an eye out for warning signs of serious issues going on in a student’s life, such as an abusive or dangerous home. It feels like teachers constantly have to keep on their toes and balance multiple plates at once,” said Chris Vargas, Teachers for Tomorrow senior.

“Being in the teacher’s shoes for once was a truly eye-opening experience. I realized that teachers not only had to plan and instruct lessons effectively, but also actively engage with students, and accommodate the diverse academic needs of each and every student. It’s a mentally demanding job and people don’t give it enough credit,” said Justin Zhang, Teachers for Tomorrow class of 2021.

In addition to unspoken responsibilities, many teachers also assist with students’ needs after school hours. Multiple teachers at Tallwood High School continue to be sponsors of clubs, which is not part of their contracted responsibilities. Teachers typically not only partake in teaching but also play the role of sponsors for multiple clubs within schools

“Even with bonuses for taking part in an extra-curricular or sponsoring a club, [teachers] often have to pull money out of their own paychecks to support [students]. They also spend time and energy keeping them running. Furthermore, certain duties are expected of them or are pushed onto them, without much regard for their time and energy, such as hallway duties or other assigned duties,” said Chris Vargas.

It is clear that the responsibilities that come with being a teacher are not being compensated appropriately. From spending their own personal money on students to being given insulting stipends for their time and efforts, teachers are doing so much but being given so little. With even more factors in play such as administrative support, societal pressures, and more we have barely begun to dive into just how bad the situations of teachers can sometimes be. With all of the problems currently facing education, it is more important than ever to recognize them and start by supporting those at the forefront: teachers. The more we support our teachers, the more we will be able to ensure that there are qualified, caring individuals educating the future of our country.