Speaking to teachers throughout the years, they don’t have it easy. Public school teachers have been underpaid since public education started in the United States in the late 1800s. Do you think teachers are not just underpaid but undervalued? Let’s talk about it.

Gene A. Gomez: “Yes indeed.”

Jodi Smith Gillen: “My students asked me last week how much overtime I was paid for working after school and on weekends. They were legitimately shocked to learn the truth, and many subsequently responded, “I’d never become a teacher.” they also asked who paid for my classroom decorations/bulletin board sets, etc. I explained that if we stripped the room bare of what I bought with my own money, it would be pretty empty. I was fine with making the monetary sacrifices that come with teaching until a few years ago. My mindset shifted, however, when disrespect became rampant; when teachers became a punching bag for all of society’s ills. I hear people on social media say, “You signed up for this.” I signed up to teach, and yes I was very naive in the beginning about what it would cost me financially. And I will keep buying school supplies, and clothing, and shoes, and Christmas gifts for my students who need those things. But I’ve got to admit, a little ‘thank you’ would be nice every now and then.”

LeAnn M Dinsdale: “Put the value of professional sports on teachers and I believe the world would change.”

Karen Overland Padgett: “The worst part is even young students know teacher pay is a joke. The kids can see the time put in and materials paid for by their teachers. I agree 100%. I truly love my career, but it’s changed so much. I couldn’t even afford to teach without my husband’s income. The abuse and vitriol toward teachers has gotten so bad I seldom go on social media anymore. We’ve become scapegoats for admin, politicians, parents, and students. You’d think teachers would be treated better since we’re expected to take a bullet for our students, which isn’t in any teacher’s job description. Stay healthy and safe.”

Rob Gonzales: “Not only are they underpaid, they don’t have the best resources and have very little support. It’s a tough time for teachers.”

Mary Madison: “ The problem with teacher pay, as I see it, is that the actual dollars paid are an hourly wage (very low), but it is paid as a salary (which is usually substantial because it comes with the understanding that it is not a 9-5 job, sometimes there will be more hours for projects, sometimes it will be slow). School systems couldn’t pay teachers an hourly wage for the time spent preparing to do the actual job. If they (I’m no longer teaching) were paid hourly, you can bet chaperoning would fall by the wayside, and time would be built into the schedule to get the job done – maybe teaching fewer hours but having more planning time built in.

So many systemic and societal problems. Systemic in that teachers are often first generation college graduates for whom self-advocacy may not be encouraged, tend to be rule followers and linear thinkers (okay with a military-like hierarchy) and is a mostly female profession. Compound all that with the fact that society does not value education or teachers. Let’s not forget the supplies he purchases out of his salary for materials needed for instruction. When I changed careers and was told that I had 500 sheets of copy paper for one semester I thought it was a joke (especially after how much admin and hq went through).”

David Trujillo Arriaga: “Yes they are! They can raise people’s children but some people vote against better wages for them.”

Lauren Kuta: “ I don’t even need a thank you. I’d settle for a lack of open hostility from society. We can’t fix everything. Certainly not on the shoestring budgets they are offering. There’s always money for middle and upper management but never for the people in the trenches doing the real work.”

Melissa Dixon-Florio: “I’m a school nurse. I don’t have classes to teach but it’s impossible to get my nursing orders approved and I constantly buy medications and ink cartridges to make my office run. I also buy snacks and hygiene products for students out of pocket. In Providence, RI nurses are grouped in the same expectations and union as teachers.”

Linda Mullaney: “We had a super who got rid of all textbooks over the summer without consulting us. We were told to use computers, which were in a single room that we obviously couldn’t all use at once, or teach with the Smartboard and the kids could take notes. The 6-8 science teacher was literally copying his sole remaining book for the kids to use, and going through case after case of copy paper. Admin cracked down and began rationing paper, so those of us (PE) who didn’t use much donated our extra to him. It was awful. I actually bought my own case from Costco for my own use. Just another expense! I understand. I had a homeschool when I taught ES ESOL, but if there was a school with just one or two students, I would be itinerant that year and see them a few days a week. It was awesome because the school that limited copy paper didn’t limit any other supplies – just go to the storeroom – and the one that didn’t limited copy paper wouldn’t give you a box of chalk. It worked out great those years”

Shane Blackbourn: “Prior to teaching -I worked in the ‘high stress and long hours’ industry of accountancy (decent pay – gotta add.) I never suffered anxiety attacks, I didn’t have TMJ and I wasn’t losing sleep. I didn’t attend hospitals with chest issues and I was never threatened, sworn at or treated like a dummy by my clients. All of these, I have managed to acquire since teaching – but perhaps, these would have come my way anyway – who knows? I could afford to live a decent life, feed and clothe my family, take a vacation and eat at a decent restaurant once in a while. Well, not so much any more.This does not mean I don’t love teaching. It’s a great job – and I’m proud to be a teacher. The highs are great – but rewards?? Apart from intrinsic rewards, there are very few real long term beneficial ones. We don’t expect bankers, lawyers, pilots, politicians to live off intrinsic rewards though – but somehow, the expectation is that teachers should. While I love teaching – I’d not recommend this as a career choice.”

Sherry Headley-Wesner: “Don’t forget the cost for health insurance which is a joke because you pay out the nose and it’s not even great coverage. And we pay extra for dental, and vision.”