Price Worth Paying: America’s teachers are overworked and underpaid


Haley Wagner

Taylor Hoover

Raging heat, screeching, shouting, utter chaos.

Is this a battlefield? Not exactly, but it comes close. By the end of a school year, I’m sure all that teachers are ready to pull their hair out. I know I want to! Finals, standardized tests, lack of air conditioning, and the taunting promise of freedom make the last month of school unbearable. Teachers have to put up with a lot.

I love my teachers, but the idea of being one has never appealed to me. Teachers are very brave, underpaid, military-esque men and women, who are put in charge of preparing the next generation for the battle called life. They put in long hours of preparation, spend countless hours grading and attend boring meetings year after year.

And for what reward?

Squirmy kindergarteners, restless seniors, and sassy middle-school girls? At least in the Army you’re afforded some respect. Teachers are overworked and underpaid. Teachers need to be given higher wages for all of the time and dedication they put into their jobs.

Teachers are very brave, underpaid, military-esque men and women, who are put in charge of preparing the next generation for the battle called life

According to a survey conducted by The Washington Post, teachers work on average 10 hours and 40 minutes a day. That’s 53 hours a week! That doesn’t include the time they put in if they help extracurricular sports teams and clubs. If they help a sports team or club, they work on average 11 hours and 20 minutes a day. Journalist Francie Alexander from The Washington Post made this observation concerning the teaching profession:

“Teaching is a much talked about yet often misunderstood profession. Educators frequently hear well-meaning comments from parents and friends like ‘It must be so sweet to spend your days with children’ or ‘How wonderful to be done for the day by three o’clock.’ Are they serious?”

A teacher’s job never ends. There is the constant flow of tests and other papers to be graded as well as preparing new lessons to comply to the outrageously unattainable standards set by the government. They also have to keep up with their own education. As new teaching methods become inserted into college curriculum, teachers are often pushed to take more classes by their school of employment in order to be up-to-date in the latest teaching methods. So not only are these teachers trying to keep on top of their work, they’re also expected to do homework for the classes that they have to take. That’s a lot of time to be putting into a job.

Teachers are also extremely dedicated to their jobs, though they aren’t paid very well. On average, high school teachers made $55,360 in 2013. For all the dedication they put into their job, this isn’t very much money. They work long hours and are required to go to long, insipid teacher meetings.

They also have to put up with rowdy, mouthy kids all day long. They also deal with a lot of student drama. They are the ones who are stuck breaking up fights and moving kids across the room from each other because “so and so said this about me and I can’t sit next to them because they are so mean to me.”

In addition to willingly putting up with this nonsense, they also are continually supportive of their students and their accomplishments. They genuinely care about what’s going on in their students’ lives: the sports, the clubs, the hobbies. They even know “who’s dating who.” Most even sacrifice part of their own paychecks to buy supplies for their classroom or to prepare special treats for their students. During the 2013-2014 school year, according to teachers in the US spent on average $513 out of their own pockets on supplies.  If that’s not dedication, I don’t know what is!

Freezing temperatures, winter vortexes, and two-hour delays, will they ever end? Between all of the days off school and different schedules every day of the week, teachers put up with hectic schedules all winter long. They pour long hours and a lot of dedication into their classrooms. They sacrifice so much for their students, and don’t receive appreciation for all of their hard work.

Teachers deserve higher wages for all the time and dedication they put into their jobs.