Opinion: Teachers’ salaries should be increased

According to the National Education Association (NEA), when the national average starting teacher salary is adjusted for inflation, it’s down 1.3% compared to the 2009-2010 school year. Furthermore, a 2018 NEA study found that 40% of teachers leave the profession in five years. 

COVID-19 has not only brought new challenges for students, but also for teachers. Last year, teachers were required to do tasks like sanitize classroom desks during passing periods and often had to record lessons or have a WebEx call going during class for students who were absent. Along with these additional steps, teachers were also putting themselves at risk with constant exposure to students. 

Although this year, teachers are not required to do as much, they are still faced with extra responsibilities. Recently Lewisville ISD had to close every school in the district for three days due to teacher absences and a substitute shortage. Some teachers even have to spend their conference period subbing for other classes, instead of having time to themselves to work.

Since virtual learning is no longer an option this year, this is many students’ first in-person school year since the pandemic began. With less social interaction and learning gaps from virtual learning, teachers may have to give students more tutorial times and emotional support. Even though I was in-person all of last year, I still faced challenges with my learning. There were multiple times when my teachers were absent and we would have to watch pre-recorded videos, and some units were even cut short to accommodate the course schedule. 

With virtual courses last year, tests were online and many students searched up the answers or used additional resources permitted by teachers. While extra resources may have been necessary given the circumstances of last year, it seems that many students now need more help from their teachers to relearn these topics. I have found that these changes have made math courses particularly difficult. As a current student in Calculus BC, I often find myself losing points or missing simple questions because I fail to remember lower level math material. I now spend tutorial times asking my teacher questions over skills I should have engraved in my brain instead of working on the new material.

Emotionally, many students require support. After many of us spent months at home with our parents, some of those relationships got better, but for some they were strained. A lot of the time I feel like our teachers are important role models for us, and considering the amount of students they have taught, they seem well equipped to help us work through our problems. Most teachers I have had are compassionate and willing to take the time to listen to what their students are going through. This has the potential to be a burden to teachers as they not only fulfill their education job requirements, but also take on the work that comes with students trusting their teacher.

Teachers’ salaries should reflect this increased effort by increasing relative to inflation and experience. If teacher salaries are not raised, shortages will continue to increase, ultimately leading to larger class sizes, less assistance from teachers and lower value education. With the challenges teachers have conquered due to the pandemic and the risks they face teaching in-person, they should be incentivized to enter the education field. Increasing teachers salaries could help close and prevent future teacher shortages. Considering the impact my teachers have had on my life, increasing their salaries would not only be well deserved, but it would encourage them to continue to help students prosper.