Only during my lifetime, I’ve seen teacher strikes across the country, time and again, as our educators demand more pay.
Each of these strikes is unique and has its own local concerns, but each also shares the underlying issue of how America should compensate its teachers and educate its children.
When teacher Elisabeth Coate Milich decided to join in the debate, she posted her pay stub, revealing her salary online.
That caused an uproar.
In generally, people in our country don’t talk about our finances and earnings in public.
So Elisabeth Coate Milich did something most people won’t do – the frustrated Arizona school teacher posted her pay stub on social media for the world to see.
The reason? She wanted to make a point about the pay teachers receive.
She wanted people to know that despite all the education that is required to become a teacher, she and her colleagues don’t even make a living wage.
Soon the post was removed because of all the negative attention Elisabeth received.
Her Facebook post showed that she only received a $131 raise in a year as her salary went from $35,490 to $35,621, according to TODAY.
“I actually laughed when I saw the old salary versus the new one,” Milich wrote in her post.
“I need a college degree to make this? I know I don’t make a lot of money, but then when I see it in black and white I’m like ‘wow!’ I mean, I love teaching, absolutely love it, but when you see what the salary is, you cannot live on it.”
Elisabeth Coate Milich has been teacher for 7 years. Currently, she is a second-grade teacher at Whispering Wind Academy in Phoenix.
Before posting her pay, Elisabeth thought a lot about it.
But in the end, she decided that she wanted to show what a teaching salary really looks like in her state, according to CBS News.
Arizona does have some of the lowest-paid public school teachers in the USA. But the average salary for those educators is not the $35,621 that Milich’s check stub reflects.
Instead, it’s around $47,000. But compared to the national average of $58,353 a year (according to National Education Association Research), the average salary for teachers in Arizona is still low
However, Elisabeth sure made a point. She also said that teachers are often left to pay for supplies for students like markers and tape without being compensated.
Elisabeth is still paying off her student loans, 20 years after graduating from college.
Milich noted that she has been able to remain in education because of her husband’s salary, but her friends and co-workers are not so lucky. Her fellow teachers aren’t so lucky as to have a second household income.
“My teacher friends that I work with, they work three and four jobs to make ends meet,” Milich explained. “I know teachers that teach kindergarten all day long and then they leave and they go waitress at Applebee’s,” she added.
“If you are a single person trying to make it on what we make, you couldn’t do it,” she claimed
A study in 2017, by the Arizona State University’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy, said that teacher recruitment and retention levels in Arizona are at “crisis” levels.
The study also found that 42% of Arizona teachers who were hired in 2013 left the profession after three years and that the state’s elementary school teachers are the lowest paid in the country.
Teacher salaries nationwide are down compared with recent decades. Adjusting for inflation, they’ve shrunk 1.6% nationwide between 2000 and 2017.
Of course, we have to mention that there’s another side to this argument. Surely teachers bemoan their salary, but many people are quick to point out that they don’t work anywhere near the same number of days as other full-time professionals. So why should they expect to receive the same full-time wages?
But is it true that educators really working less?Profit of Education have put together a table showing how many days a year teachers put in on-the-clock compared to “professional and related” workers with 10 years experience, using data from the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ).
As they point out, teachers have nearly 50 fewer, more than 20% less, on-the-clock workdays than those in the private sector.
However, this doesn’t take into consideration the work teachers do “off-the-clock”. As you probably can imagine, some teachers do a lot of work during their personal time.
Then again, there are the supplies they have to buy – but maybe that is another side to the debate. While some teachers may be spending significant amounts on their classroom, there are those who don’t spend much at all.
And I know that many parents bear a lot of that burden, buying a lot of supplies according to teachers’ very specific requests.
I just bring you the info, you decide. Do you think that our teachers are underpaid or is the pay less because they work less on-the-clock hours than other full-time professions?
Either way, I think there is one thing we can all agree on.
The most essential careers to a safe, productive, and happy American society could never be paid enough money for what they do.
Firefighters, police officers, EMTs, nurses, military service members, and teachers, just to name a few, provide invaluable services to their communities.
How do you fairly compensate such critical work? You simply can’t put a price tag on it. That’s why, for most people who choose these professions, it’s not about the salary anyway — they enter these fields for reasons money can’t buy, and we applaud them for it.