By Dr. Debra Colley
I listen, with great interest, to the ongoing discussion about salaries for teachers and educational administrators (the CEOs of school systems). Often the bottom line in this discussion is this: Are educators paid too much?
In my experience, I have learned that teachers take on the awesome responsibility of facilitating the cognitive, psychological and psychosocial development of their students. These teachers continually strive to shape our world’s rapidly changing workforce by fostering crucial literacy and communication skills in our children, and by inspiring students to a higher level understanding of math, science and technology (to name a few). The support they provide to their students translates into success and innovation for engineers, medical doctors, scientists, and CEOs (again, to name just a few), who will lead us into the future.
Why, then, are we not talking about salaries that will entice our greatest young people to select teaching as their profession?
We know that the average salaries being discussed by the media are heavily weighted by those who are most tenured. It is the beginning salary, however, which drives young people into the profession as they consider how their skills and talents will translate into a career – a career which promotes fiscal independence or even one which will provide confidence in the ability to support a family within the economic conditions of this generation (not to mention paying student loans).
As a professional woman, I have been interested in seeing the entry level salary for teaching increase over the years, as I would like our most talented students to choose this exceptionally significant profession. The competition to choose other more lucrative careers is fierce…young women and men alike (both of whom are needed in our schools) have many professional opportunities and they should indeed consider the financial foundation and growth that is needed for a secure future. I would like to see teaching on that short list!
So we may ask … is the salary of a teacher too high?
I ask . . . what is the value of the professional who shapes the academic and personal development of our children and adolescents, influences our community through the education of its citizens, and imparts cutting-edge, 21st century knowledge and skills that are essential to the future workforce of our country?