Once, I thought about becoming a teacher. I was in between jobs, wanting a change in career, and thought it would be really great to have summers off. And be the boss of 20-30 impressionable young minds… Me, molding the youth of America. Just to get 3 months a year to sleep in until 11 am, plus snow days. Don’t forget the snow days.

All of the above is probably what makes me NOT the best candidate to become a teacher.

In 2011, the average starting salary for teachers was $33,950. A teacher with 20+ years of experience averaged a $56,055 salary. (1) Most spend their summers working second jobs or expanding their education to stay certified or better themselves professionally. Not only do they get snow days, which of course they have to make up at the end of the year, but they are now being forced to take furlough days. They only spend 6 or 7 hours in the classroom each day, but don’t forget to add to that countless hours for advising and extra-curricular activities, or curriculum and grading at home.

In 2013, more than half of the country is set to spend fewer dollars per pupil than they did in their 2012 state budgets. (2) Over 300,000 teachers have lost their jobs since 2009. (3) Cut, cut, cut. We want our youth to have a bright outlook but apparently no one wants to pay for it, leaving teachers to bear the burden.

In other news, your average NFL player makes $5.15 million; MLB player $3.31 million; NHL player $2.4 million; and NFL player $1.9 million. Oprah made $165 million last year. And don’t forget Honey Boo Boo, who now gets $20k per episode.

Our teachers are patient. They are kind. They are thoughtful and selfless. They are the types of people that would throw themselves in front of a wall of bullets to save their your children. They are heroes.

We trust our teachers and child care providers with our children’s lives, every day. From 7am to 3pm, or some variation of that time, they take our place as the authority. As the protector. As the role model. And they take on that responsibility for our child, and 20+ others just likes ours, willingly and seriously. Certainly, they don’t do it for the paycheck. Or the support they are given from our local governments or our tax paying society. They do it simply because they “have a passion for learning and want to mold young minds.” (4) 

And that’s what we expect them to do. Produce our future doctors, inventors, military men and women, police officers, fire fighters, presidents. We give them few resources, and take away more every day, yet expect them to make do anyway. We expect the test scores to go up, but not their salaries.

We don’t expect them to go to work and take a bullet for our children. These are classrooms, not battlefields after all. But I’m certain, even if that were a known risk, it would be one they’d be willing to take. Because that’s just the kind of people our teachers are.

As the country recovers from the latest school shooting tragedy, we all seem to be reflecting on our country and it’s laws and it’s resources. For gun control, for mental health, for the safety of our children. But, as we discuss these things, let’s not forget the heroes in these situations – the first first responders. The teachers. Isn’t it time we also give them the support and the thanks and the resources they need and deserve? What better time than now?

 

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