Sorting by

Skip to main content

by Kate Kooyman
Theresa Latini is taking a  break from her rotation on The Twelve. While she’s away, we welcome Kate Kooyman. Kate is a minister of the Reformed Church in America who serves in the Christian Reformed Church Office of Social Witness in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Thank you, Kate.

Don’t get me wrong, teachers are my heroes. This week, my son’s kindergarten teacher discovered that he had been unknowingly playing with another child’s vomit on the playground — somehow thinking it was “slushy snow” leftover after the spring melt — and she calmly sent him straight to the bathroom to wash his hands. She’s a saint.

If you think teaching is easy, you have never spoken to a teacher. I helped with a craft in a kindergarten class once and was so exhausted after five minutes I had to buy a big coffee and take a nap. Teachers are on their feet, performing for a crowd, one step ahead, improvising and anticipating and redirecting and instructing. All. Day. Long. Teachers are exhausted.

In this country, we no longer pay teachers a living wage. While the requirements for proficiency seem to go up constantly — ask a public school teacher some time if they have, or are working on, a master’s degree or a professional endorsement — the compensation does not. Many states have frozen pay raises, leaving lots of teachers with years of experience but still earning a starting salary.

In Detroit this week, teachers are protesting again. First it was because their buildings were unsafe places to work or to learn. And now it’s because the district is claiming it cannot pay them for the work they have already performed.

It’s also national Teacher Appreciation Week. So we get to hear a lot of happy rhetoric about the importance of our educators, while also expecting them to do our country’s most important work. For free.

I’m ready for things to change. What if appreciating teachers went beyond a Hallmark card and a latte this time? What if we called our elected leaders and asked them why it is that the profession that has the greatest impact on our nation’s economic and social future does not receive a salary that can adequately support a family? What if we asked them how they can keep passing laws requiring that teachers take more and more courses to remain “proficient” when they don’t make enough money to pay down the student loans they already have? What if we asked our neighbors how it is possible that they applaud my U.S. Congressman when he bemoans the horrors of Common Core curriculum at a town hall meeting, but they remain wholly unconcerned when teachers can’t get approved for a mortgage?

I’m done appreciating my kid’s teacher. I think she deserves better than that. I think she deserves to be treated like she is valued, and she deserves to be honored for the service she gives to our community.

I want her to get more than appreciated. I want her to get a raise.

Kate Kooyman

Rev. Kate Kooyman is a minister of the Reformed Church in America who lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan.


  • fuzhoumom97 says:

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart! I’m a Kindergarten teacher, I LOVE what I do, but I have been in a pay “dead zone” for the past six years. I make less money each year while, at the same time, I spend more money on classroom supplies. Today, I bought $15 worth of glue sticks on my way to school so we could make a cool flag 🙂 I would never not spend money on “my kiddos”, I just wish I had a little money to spend on my own daughter 😉 This is my 34th year, so obviously, I am in it for the long haul. It’s in my blood, and in my heart <3

    • Vanessa says:

      Thank you!

    • Russ Salinas says:

      Yes. My wife has been a teacher for 20 years and we have been together 7years, here in Texas her school district has taken away vacation days hasn’t given any raises, treated like crap by her own administration n UT wants her to keep doing more. What a joke. God bless all our teachers and their dedication.

    • Dally 0. says:

      Thank you for your dedication to a vital profession….educating our nation’s children!!

    • Bradley says:

      I am a teacher as well, but the system is flawed in many ways other than our salary. Now I’m in a somewhat higher paying school district and we start at 51k dollars, now I would never put my name on this but the part that is really flawed is including the teachers union. I am a great teacher but I get the same salary as a shitty teacher or someone who has a “cake” job and teaches 3 periods a day (we all know that kind). Also if you can’t afford it you don’t buy classroom supplies, we need to be smarter with our money. We as teachers are some of the biggest cry babies as a whole and this is bothersome as well. On the other hand teachers are held to a higher standard, for the sake of not less money than most other professions, which I see as a problem. But bottom line we knew what we were signing up for yes. People only see the fact that we get 3 months off a year, but my friend on the medical field works equal days per year as me. We are shaping the future of America, but yes we are not valued as it and this will never change, which in turn leads to the fact that I’d bet if you asked teachers if they would choose the same career path if they could do it all over again, my guess is that 90% would say no. We are under valued, which will sadly never change.

      • Val says:

        Higher pay or lower pay I love what I do and would never change it! I do not work in a higher paying system… Actually one of the lowest and I have to buy several things for the classroom… Most of my students live much below the poverty level and if I don’t furnish school supplies, they simply do not receive them. I make do, though… I do think teachers need a raise, but giving me a raise will not make me feel any different.

        • Sally says:

          Good for you, Val. You have the right attitude!

        • Lhiscox says:

          Thank you Val, and all other ‘Val’s’ , you deserve more, but carry on without because you know you are making a difference and reaching our youth. Appreciate you, every day 🙂

      • Jessica says:

        “Somewhat higher” indeed. I’ve been teaching for almost 10 years and make closer to $30,000. With all due respect, don’t assume that your experience is the same as all teachers.

      • Brenda says:

        I have a ‘cake’ job I suppose. I teach 3 periods a day. I work 12 hours a day, minimum. Great teachers don’t bash others in the profession for which they apparently have neither any knowledge or appreciation for what they do. I sincerely hope you do not teach English.

      • Cyndi says:

        I am in an area where starting teachers could qualify for government assistance programs – food stamps, etc. As a special education teacher I didn’t know what I was committing to but, I am so blesses to be the teacher i am today. I wouldn’t trade my job for the world!

      • The part about all salaries being the same hits me hard. I’m a special ed teacher who’s done the paperwork for 2 teachers this year. I’m not saying that as a metaphor. The other teacher went on medical leave and I’ve done all her IEPs as well as mine. Special ed is hard to begin with then this. But the Art teacher makes as much as me. God bless her, she’s awesome…but let’s be real! There’s going to be a huge teacher shortage in years to come and especially special ed. I’m leaving the profession. I can’t do it another 21 years. Maybe if they didn’t overwork me and then pay me like shit? Maybe? I don’t know.

        • Caren says:

          You too could have gone to Art School and gotten that degree. Then gone on to a university and gotten that degree. Nobody stopped you from doing that. Just like I made my choice after high school, you did too.

        • Laurie says:

          And that art teacher teaches every student in the school in elementary. Regular Ed, special Ed, AB, PPCD, AU ETC. We are all in this together…we all share in the growth of a child. We all have college degrees.

        • Jenny says:

          Understand that all educational specialties have their specific challenges. You seem to be looking at the art teacher as one who flitters around the classroom all day doing a job that is simplistic compared to yours. As an elementary music teacher, I can tell you that the art teacher at your school does not sit down all day. From the first bell to the final, she instructs, encourages, and performs (we’ll not even get into the constant cleaning). If she’s anything like the art teachers I’ve observed, she then stays after school for hours upon end completing the same lesson plans and paperwork that plague all of us…and then she preps 100 art projects for the following day. Point is, we all have special responsibilities according to our talents.

      • Katie says:

        “Somewhat higher”? ??

        You’re easily making nearly twice what (I would venture to say) MOST teachers make.
        So yeah, it’s easy for you to grumble about teachers poor attitudes and go on about how “90% of teachers would say no.”

        I’ve wanted to teach since I was 4. I LOVE what I do.

        So I guess count me in as those weirdo 10%ers who would choose it all over again. ?

        • Karen Pronschinske says:

          I am with you ….I have wanted to teach since I was 5. I don’t even make 30k, but this does not change my mind about teaching. I love my job so much, and yes, I buy plenty of supplies for my classroom. I love my children…I love my job..I love my life!

        • Elaine says:

          I’m right there with you Katie. Weird and wonderfully blessed and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I will endure the crappy pay, disrespect from the community, lip service on how important we are that is not followed by things you do for people you value, bullying by bad administrators who just want to get rid of teachers on the high end of the pay scale, and all of the other abuses, because I don’t do it for the money or the warm fuzzies. I do it for the kids. Please don’t tell me how important you think I am. A thank you is always wonderful, but an even better thank you would be to tell every legislator that is in your region that if they don’t start proving that they value teachers by paying them respectably, stopping administrative abuses, and giving them benefits that include medical insurance that is better than Medicare, then they might want to find a new job.

      • BMcF says:

        The union is not perfect, but without the efforts of your union, you would not be seeing anywhere near $51K a year. The union has nothing to do with retaining “shitty” teachers. The responsibility of improving teachers or getting rid of them falls to the administration. The union doesn’t hire, nor fire teachers – they make sure due process is followed. If you want to strengthen your local association, be part of the solution – be a leader. Accept the nomination for being an association rep or officer. Attend leadership training. Be part of the negotiations team. You’ll be a more informed member and educator.

      • Kat says:

        I see you are very humble too. As a self proclaimed “great” teacher, you evidently see the flaws in the system, but what are you doing to fix it? It must be nice that your Union can get you such a high salary. Me, I teach in a nonunion state. And as for the teachers who only teach three out of the four blocks…. Block scheduling created that. Every teacher is entitled to planning time even though not all teachers receive that time. I laughed at the “be smarter with money” comment also. You sound like the teacher at my school that says “we can’t do that activity because we don’t have the supplies.” I have never said that. Even with three of my own, on my own, I have spent out of pocket on my classroom. I really don’t understand people like you.

        • TZ says:

          The $51k a year might be a state like NY or NJ where homes are $400K for a 3 bedroom house and taxes for that house are $12K a year. I think his comments are insane, but hating a salary where in other parts of the country people pay half the amount of money on homes, car insurance, and taxes is just silly.

      • Jill Henrichsen says:

        I teach three periods a day and i get paid a part time wage. Not the same as full time. Just saying.

      • Sue says:

        Amen to Bradley! I’m a former teacher. For teachers to be taken as serious professionals we need to get ride of the unions! It’s very hard to work alongside others who are just milking the system.
        As far as continuing education, most all professionals require this.
        While there are some teachers that put in many hours, many do not work an 8 hour day. In my world professionals work more than 8 hours a day. Those that don’t usually aren’t around long or are not promoted. Teachers get raises based on number of years they’ve worked. And in the private sector, when times are bad we go without raises. Only in the public sector are raises automatic.
        Standard PTO in the business world is 15 days a year. This is any time off (sick days too). In addition, in my area teacher starting salaries are equal to or higher than many in the business world.
        Take the union out and give teachers the freedom to move to new districts. Let districts compete for the better teachers, like the private sector jobs. Lets attract those that really want to teach and shake out the others. It is a hard job. Let’s fix the system to encourage those that want to be there. This is a scary concept for many of those who have not worked outside the public sector. The true professionals will be better off. Our kids will be better off.

        • 2nd Career Teacher says:

          “This is a scary concept for many of those who have not worked outside the public sector. The true professionals will be better off. Our kids will be better off.”

          I spent 15 years in a science field, and I now teach elementary school. I am scared of the idea of teaching public school WITHOUT a union – after spending three years teaching under a bully of a principal, I can’t imagine how much worse that chapter of my professional life would have been, had we not had contractual protections to limit her aggressions. In my private sector life, I could move to a different firm if I didn’t like the management. In the public K-12 sector, you’re stuck with a bad principal for at least a year, if you value your teaching license and continued employment within your district.

          In my case, my union protected me from being fired for objecting to (among other things) having my (theoretically guaranteed) planning time taken away repeatedly, having my lunch period shortened so I could be assigned janitorial work, and an attempt to force me to move from teaching a primary grade to teaching 8th grade science. The union couldn’t help with every issue at that school, but they did help us fight the contract violations; I think in the private sector, my recourse would have been to hire an attorney or to change jobs. The former option is expensive and the latter isn’t really an immediate option for many teachers, due to the seasonal nature of hiring in our field.

          I truly hope that those who are anti-union will never need theirs.

      • Dee says:

        I’m a nurse and although I make more money than most we ate another career that is not appreciated. But I didn’t choose my job to get pats on the back from people. I chose it to make a difference in someones life to help who I can and you can’t put a price on that

      • Jenny says:

        Becoming a teacher is a choice, and with that choice comes certain sacrifices as well as certain rewards. You are making 50K in a very generous school district. I chose to enter the teaching profession at a starting salary of 16K back in 1996. I chose to take time off to stay home with each of my kids. In my 12th year in the classroom, I’m currently choosing to teach in a small private school and making 19K (with $7000 of my children’s tuition off-set in return). I agree with you that we’re going into this with our eyes open and sometimes complain about things that we chose to do. However, it seems to me and quite a few of us here that, based on your salary, your choice was a bit easier to make.

    • Yvonne J says:

      God bless you and thank you for your years of commitment , although thanks is no going to help you get the pay that all teachers deserve. I was a sub for a while and it is a hard job, even as much as you love the children, as l did, it is very demanding. Bless you.????

    • Rhonda says:

      I don’t get why teachers have to buy all the stuff that school’s had when we were kid’s. I send in Kleenex and hand sanitizer every month they ask for a list at the beginning of the year. But what about the rest of the year.

      • Karin says:

        Many school districts have no money budgeted for supplies. I was lucky to work for a private school that did. A friend of mine had to supply her own copy paper.

        • jad8 says:

          What I don’t understand, or consider fair in any way, is that I live in a school district that has a huge military base in it. There is no lack of funding here, but the small town I used to live in struggled for everything. High schoolers are issued laptops on enrolling, and my middle schooler has taken 3 field trips. The High school has an indoor swimming pool, and every perk. Is it not the same government funding both?? There is something wrong with this picture. I’m NOT in any way putting down our service men and women, but I find the inequality disturbing.

          • PJ says:

            That is exactly what you did.
            How many of the students in your other school moved every two to three years? I have six ARMY kids. By time our youngest daughter was 18 we moved 17 times. I am sure you can offer a little leeway for a DOD school to have a few more perks so that maybe the kids who move so often can catch up.
            Have you ever been locked down into your neighborhood? We have. How many times have you had to shelter in place? Our kids have been at school until late in the evening before because of such lockdowns.
            I myself am a teacher. I have volunteered in schools, be it public, public on a post or private. There are good teachers and bad. No one should have to bring in pencils for their students. I believe everyone deserves a living wage. We have had many school supply collections and fund raisers. The military starting pay is below poverty level if you have a spouse and a child. It stays that way for quite a few years and ranks.
            My father was a soldier and I remember as a high schooler the staff coming to get my best friend out of class. Her mother had died. Now this is an almost daily occurrence in a large military school.
            Excuse us if my child uses a laptop or swims in the school pool.

          • Test124 says:

            Part of the reason for higher funding in small military towns is that they can’t plan for how many students they will have each year as well. Not saying it’s right but that’s the reasoning.

          • Militarymom says:

            If the schools are on base they are for families living on base only and are not open to the public. The funding source would be different.

          • Holly says:

            Funding comes through the state, a little federal, but most comes from local taxes (usually property). Which explains huge discrepancies between districts.

      • Kim W. says:

        We have to buy supplies because we’re not allowed to ask parents to send many items in and most parents send in nothing.

      • Jamie says:

        Teachers have been buying stuff for years, you just didn’t know it as a student. I’ve been at this over 20 years and have always spent my own money on all kinds of things.

      • Rhonda…Very often parents in some schools do no or will not send in the very basic of supplies such as paper and pencils, believing it is the school’s responsibility but then the school does not either. I’ve read of some schools that will not allow teachers to ask for items from parents as well.

        • Cathy says:

          I have been with my district 20 + yrs and have always had to ask for donations to dissect in Life Science. We only get $250 for supplies-paper, etc. I deducted about $8000. in supplies last year-I am luckier than most because I have more write offs because of another business that I own.

        • Rose says:

          In Utah we are not allowed to tell parents they have to send supplies into school. It’s the law. We can ask for donations but as some have said, the majority of people view it as the school’s responsibility. We are also the second to lowest state in the nation for per pupil spending with some of the highest class sizes. One of the hardest things I have found is that parents also feel like they can bully teachers. It is a constant battle. I love working with the students and helping them learn! It’s my favorite but I am wondering when I will hit my breaking point.

      • Karen Koenig says:

        My school district will not allow us to ask parents for Kleenexes and hand sanitizer, yet they won’t provide it, either. We also have a “zero-dollar” budget this year. like last year. That means we are not to ask for funding for anything.

        It is ridiculous.

      • Aaron Wise says:

        You are among the few parents who actually take care of providing for your child. I teach high school and to expect a student to have a pencil and paper to complete assignments is at times like asking them to lop off an arm. We have had students brought to us on the first day of classes (not the week before at enrollment) and simply dropped off… No plan for classes… no payment for book fees… no pencils… no paper… no backpack… barely the clothes on their back. The state leaders are cutting funding left and right. School districts no longer buy those consumable materials. As in Detroit they are trying to maintain an outdated, dilapidated, unsafe infrastructure. Other districts in rural areas have busses that are going on 10-15 years old and over 300K miles. At $100,000+ per bus, student transportation becomes nearly impossible. With these big ticket items, and Lord forbid expectations of parents buying a pencil, paper, box of tissues, crayons, etc, the teachers reach into their own shallow pockets to make sure their kids have supplies, and I mean that in the literal sense.. “their kids” as each and every one is loved and cared for as if their own.

      • Larry says:

        Where I work very few kids bring supplies. The majority of the kids bring nothing with the expectation of doing nothing. So, many teachers have to buy the basics to ensure they can and do work. Parent support is greatly needed.

    • I hope you save your receipts and turn them in at tax time to get some of your money back.

      • Tracy says:

        In Tennessee we only get $200 tax credit. That doesn’t begin to cover it unfortunately. ?

      • Brittney says:

        Teachers can only claim 250 of what they spend on their classrooms every year, but spend way more than that on things their students need!

      • Lillian Garcia says:

        We are only allowed to claim $250.00. I spend more than that the first week of school.

      • Jen says:

        Some states are putting a freeze on this. I asked when I had my taxes done for last year and my tax lady said she’s pretty sure this is the last year we will be able to do that.

      • Shelly says:

        In my state we can only claim $250. I spend at least twice that every year.

    • Marlyn says:

      Ever try asking parents? I once gave out a supply list and was pleasantly surprised. Yes I taught in a lower social economic area and I only asked for small things, but some is better than nothing.
      Good luck and keep up the good work 🙂

      • kristin says:

        I would love if the teacher would ask! I didn’t realize we were even supposed to send in paper!

      • Kari says:

        Great idea! Please ask parents!! As a parent, I have been happy to help. My boys are in Kinder and when I noticed some needs I asked if I could go buy the items. Both teachers were surprised and thankful. If parents are not able to volunteer in class they probably have no idea what is needed!

    • MelChristine1 says:

      You are amazing!! Know that there are lots of us that deeply respect you and our kids love you like no others. Thanks again…. It’s not for the faint of heart.

    • I totally understand where you are coming from…our daughter is a teacher and works with children who have learning disabilities…she started with a small group, and now has an entire classroom…when are people going to wake up?? Dyslexia, Reading, and a host of additional problems are facing children every day…it is difficult to remember that we are in the United States, and our president advises that both boys and girls should use coed bathrooms….over my dead body!!

    • This is a great point ours is the only profession that requires us to purchase supplies, and not just the supplies for us but for the students/clients. Imagine if even 1 congressman or senator had to by a glue stick for everyone they represent!

  • Terri Teschner says:


  • Deb Poswiata says:

    Thank you! A very tired kindergarten teacher!

  • Oh my God, yes! Yes yes yes a thousand times yes! I legitimately don’t think I’ll ever own my own home because I’m a teacher. I don’t make enough money to afford all my student loans and it’s crippled my credit severely. Meanwhile, my students assume I’m rich (high school kids) and are shocked to hear hints during discussions that I’m not. Life comes up in the classroom and many kids are upset to find out their teachers loterally can’t afford to buy Kleenex’s for the classroom because they don’t have enough money for rent! No one benefits from that!

    My own children have to go without a lot of things because I chose this unappreciated and under-compensated career. I juggle money from one bank account to another to make sure things get paid on time and I know that if I wasn’t married, I would literally not be able to afford to live on my own and would need a roommate. How is that ok?!

    • Cathy says:

      You need to check into ICR or IBR- income based. Repayment or income contingent repayment. Pay your loans for ten yrs then the rest get paid off. Payments are also based on your adjusted gross income so it reduces the payment. I accidentally paid more than 10 yrs and in Jan the govt paid off $150,000 for me . A big sense of relief- I feel like I won the lotto

    • Faith Ripple says:

      I’m on the hunt for a roommate this summer. I want to buy a townhouse in a lesser than desirable neighborhood so I can use the rental income to pay for my mortgage but it will require rooming with someone else for a currently undetermined number of months. We got a raise last school year but it made up for the lack of pay raises and should have caught me up to be able to make my higher rent payments but I’m actually struggling worse after the raise than I did last year.
      I LOVE being a teacher. I hate the standard of living I have because of the decision.

  • Eml says:

    Thank you

  • Miya Teague says:

    AMEN !!!!!!

  • Renita Williams says:

    Thank you from the bottom of my ❤

  • Nicole says:


  • Greg Brown says:

    You are so, On Target!!! I have been feeling this way for years! Our corrupt government has brought this about! And it is now time to take a Stand!! Common Core is as big a Failure as our government itself!

  • Paula Maccarone says:

    Let’s get to this, Kate. I am ALL IN.

  • Michelle says:

    Thank you!!!

  • Carol says:


  • John Gallen says:

    Spot on!

  • Barbara says:

    Thanks for supporting teachers past , present and future . Teachers are escaping their career within the first five years nation wide because of the lack of support , appreciation , and salary .

  • Denis Ian says:

    There’s something so odd about teaching … and it’s seldom mentioned. Everyone thinks they can teach. Everyone.

    Just because you taught your child to knot his sneakers in record time doesn’t make you the next Mr. Chips. Everyone is so seduced by Hollywood and tv-land that they actually think they could sail right into a classroom and every kid would sing the theme song “To Sir, with Love”. And the world would cry because of their greatness.

    Like any job, teaching is layered with misconceptions. Everyone fantasizes about professional baseball players … swatting home runs and earning millions for making the highlight reels. No one mentions the family separation, the travel fatigue, roadie food, a different bed every few days, autograph hounds, packing and unpacking, missing family stuff, separation from wives and children … and then the usual redundancy of any job. All we see is the glamour.

    That’s true for teaching, too. Everyone seems to see that “To Sir, With Love” guy winning over the thuggery class and becoming a revered legend overnight. Or that Mr. Chips who seems to sweat wisdom … because he’s so over-supplied with it. If that were the case, I would have hung in the position until I was a hundred. But it’s not.

    Teaching is lots of stuff few imagine … and lots of hours even fewer acknowledge. It’s not a job you get very good at very quickly either … even with the best preparation. It’s not all knowledge either … it’s technique and personality and polishing a persona and perfecting a delivery … as well as knowing your subject inside out … and keeping current in the ever changing field.

    It’s about intuition. And listening to that intuition. It’s about love … all sorts of love.

    There’s easy love …for those kids that just joy you day-in-and-day-out. They’re great students, great kids … with great personalities and great everything.

    Then there’s that hard love … for the kid with the green snot and the girl with the matted hair … and unpleasant aroma. Or for the boy who’s an accomplished bully at age 13 … and thinks this is his lot in life. Then there’s the broken child … who seems already to have quit life. And the loud, annoying sort … who’s probably masking a world of hurt. What about the invisibles? … the kids who practice invisibility because their daily ambition is to go unrecognized and un-included … for whatever dark reason. Prying them out of their darkness can take months … if it ever really happens.

    There’s lots more to describe, but it’s unnecessary. What is necessary is to imagine engaging all of these kids in the right way day after day … and then seeing to it that they make educational progress as well. Making sure they’re prepared for the next level … the next challenges. Oh … and you lug all of this stuff around in your head and your heart … all the time.

    And then, just to make this all even more interesting, weave in the mundane that actually captures most of your time … never-ending grading that snatches away your Sundays, faculty and department meetings, parent confabs, planning, gathering things you need and resources you want. Colleague exchanges and innovative thinking. Blend in some school politics and the usual work-place agita … and maybe some deep intrigue at times. Oh, and don’t forget your family … those folks you bump into when you’re half dressed. They want a piece of you, too.

    How many can cut it in that life? Really cut it?

    • cadisneykidd says:

      Denis – Your response was as brilliantly written as the original post. I hope you’ll share it to a wider audience.

      • Nancy Martin says:

        Yes, I agree with you!

      • Rebecca says:

        Everyone adult in this country has seen teachers teach, and so every adult in this country thinks they know what teachers do for a living. The trouble is, what you saw teachers doing when you were a student was about 10% of the job. And, the very best teachers make it look REALLY easy (kind of like musicians). I loved Denis’ post. It was dead-on.

    • Why isn’t this the article???

    • Saralee says:

      Your words are sooo true… Like perfect I would say! I almost cried reading your last words about the family… I have a 6 month old baby. Teaching is tough, yet I love what I do so much…

    • Jennifer says:

      Well said!

    • Liz Ratashak says:

      Denis, you clearly live the life — you speak the truth, brother. Thank you for taking the time to share your skill. I appreciated reading it!

    • adjsumrall says:

      This post deserves its own blog too! Well said!

    • Eliza says:

      All this. All.

    • Winf says:

      Brilliant post!

    • Diana says:

      Well said sir! I am a first grade teacher and I love they way you explain the loves you have for your students.

    • Jan says:

      Finally, someone speaks the cold hard truth about teaching!!!!

    • Judy Cizauskas says:

      This is my 26th year teaching in a middle school. I love it 98% of the time. I really do. You said it so well!

    • Jillmichelle says:

      That was positively brilliant. You summed it up so succinctly. It sucks that the truth is so sad…

    • Katie says:

      Please share this too!!!

    • BB says:


    • Love this!!!!! You hit it right on the head. It is like you are at my middle school.?

    • Stacy says:

      Your response is just as true as the article. NO matter the grade you teach! It never gets easier either, each year we get a new set of the aforementioned and what you did the year before isn’t going to work with the new crop of children that walk through your doors in August! I love all of my students even the “bad ones” and learning to reach them on their level and what needs to happen to reach them doesn’t happen over night!!!! So thank you for your added wisdom!!

    • Rebecca says:

      Love this.

    • Karen Arkfeld says:

      Amen! In my 32 yr and I can’t afford a better car, I am working as a waitress at night and my credit score is barely in the good….. trying to help my daughters pay off student loans too. Great reply

    • Mickie says:

      Wow! Very well said!!!!

    • Yvonne J says:

      Very well written. Thank you for telling it like it is.

    • Jen says:

      Fantastically stated! You need to share this. 🙂

    • Tahirah Hepburn says:

      Well said!!!!

    • Michele, the exhausted librarian says:

      You should seriously publish this. Offer it to any newspapers as an option ed or letter to the editor. Start a blog and post it. If more people saw this, mayhap they’d get a clue! ???THANK YOU!! ???

    • KJ Simmons says:

      So true! You sound like you ARE or closely know a teacher with a true heart and gift to make it work. ???

    • KJ Simmons says:

      Thank you all for the support! Keep up the good work!!! For the negative people, please spend a WHOLE day in a classroom before you make that kind of judgment. Most parents want to send their kids to school for teachers to deal with ALL their baggage from home. Multiply that by 30 per class and 4-6 classes a day. After you finish, teach to all different ability levels and ways of learning while maintaining discipline and order in your classroom. Then will your opinion matter. Smh!

    • Lori Britt Boogay says:

      Good descriptive writing…Love it!

    • Ann says:


    • Laureen says:

      May I copy and post your comment? I am a veteran teacher if 22 years and I have never had anyone express teaching so eloquently. Thank you.

    • Carol Reed says:

      Beautifully expressed!

    • Sara S. says:

      Wow, so spot on. You’re an excellent writer.

    • Dave says:

      Well said.

    • Dawn says:

      WOW!!! This is terrifically written and captures so much!!! The pay doesn’t bother me, it’s all the other stuff, and I wouldn’t say it bothers me, it’s just exhausting. I can honestly say, I can’t imagine doing any other profession, and I love “my kids” so much, past and present. It’s having a former student visit you years later to tell you that you helped make him who he is today, or watching that student who struggled so much walk across the stage and graduate! It’s sneaking a snack into a child’s desk every morning because you know he never eats breakfast and his family doesn’t have the money to send snack in, but you don’t want him to feel embarrassed and have to ask. Or having endless folders, notebooks, markers, paper, and pencils in your room for those less fortunate, so they can feel just like the rest of your students and be prepared to learn. Thank you for bringing so much more to the table other than pay!

    • Kelley says:

      That was a great read, Denis! Hit the nail right on the head!

    • dcobb says:

      Best description of teaching EVER. Thank you so much!!

  • Janet M. says:

    Thank you.

  • Ann says:

    This was in a article in the Detroit Free Press.

    They want to first get rid of the education superintendent and then dismantle the entire department. Of course, they’re trying to get rid of teachers’ pensions, too. In Detroit they are getting rid of the current teachers so they can hire other people, without certificates, to take over the Detroit schools at a much lower salary. That’s why Detroit people came to Flint when President Obama was here to talk about Flint’s water problem last week. We’re all going to have to pay increased taxes to pay off Detroit’s school debt their emergency manager incurred with the private school system they’ve had in Detroit for many years. At least over a dozen Detroit principals are in court now for taking millions of dollars for themselves during the last number of years that Snyder took control of Detroit’s school system with his emergency manager.

    This was sent to me by Nancy Moore Warner, retired Instructor, Mott Community College Flint, Mi.

  • karenw95 says:

    Thank you for speaking up 🙂

  • Well said … You must have had great teachers!

  • Tricia says:

    This is so true. Kids fresh out of college are paid more than I made after 31 years of teaching.

  • janisexton says:

    As a retired teacher…Teaching for 40 years…25 as a primary teacher…I so appreciate your words….Today many teachers feel devalued and unappreciated…It truly helps knowing those who advocate for those teachers who dedicate their lives to their teaching…Thank you…Janis Sexton ?

  • Sherri says:

    Amen and amen !

  • cfardrey says:

    I teach 4-K in privately owned preschool. It’s the job I was born to do. I love it!

    However, since my husband died four years ago, it has been a constant struggle to pay my mortgage and my other bills. I now work 4 other jobs (besides my teaching job) just to make ends meet.

    I tell people I have to work all those other jobs in order to keep the job I love.

  • Martha Murphy says:

    I will retire next year after forty years of teaching. Today, I make what I made in 1978. I now have a masters. Yes, I have made twice this much at really difficult assignments, but I appreciate the well behaved and bright children I have at this last assignment as I no longer have the energy to handle 70 to 80 hour work weeks I had to manage to make $75,000.

    The huge difference I see is the lack of union strength In our schools. My friends and colleagues, the unions negotiated our reasonable pay increases, step salary schedules, tenure, evaluation policiess, decent, affordable health care and working conditions we could cope with inside our classrooms. In the 1970’s and 80’s we were strong. Until we demand solidarity and demonstrate union strength again by walking together as teachers, our profession will continue to be abused by government intrusion and incompetence.

    In the few years I left teaching I made six figures. I missed the children, the joy of seeing a concept understood, and those lovely moments that keep us going. They don’t pay the rent though, and if I was starting out today, I know I could never afford to stay in education.

    A sad state of affairs.

  • David says:

    And it’s exhausting. At age thirty I moved from teaching to industry. Wonder of wonders. At the end of the day I still had energy to do things, and was not mentally and physically weary. Try performing before a critical audience for six hours a day, and you better perform at your peak.

  • Angela says:

    Thank you so much! I taught 34 years in public education and then retired to a private school for the last 4 years. I am leaving after this year because I see the same challenges in private as I saw in public. I still love kids. I still love to see their faces light up and the joy they bring every day. Yet, I have never felt so unappreciated as I have the last few years.

  • Christine says:


  • Kari says:

    I don’t understand why $40k-$50k for 9 months is not considered a living wage!

    That’s what I made in my early days of public accounting which required working 12 months per year, and during the first 4 months of the year “Busy season” — 70 week minimums, and constant travel.

    • Caleb says:

      It is both incorrect and unfair to think teachers work only 40 hours a week for 9 months a year. That is another case of people from the outside looking in on a profession that is distorted in movies and ignored in its periphery. Anyone who is not a teacher has not seen any of the additional work teachers do: these outsiders sat in class as students and maybe observed a class or two as a parent or community member. Observing the public face of teaching in no way makes you qualified to quantify or judge the workload of a teacher. That time and commitment in the classroom, while massive and important, is only part of the job.

      Ask teachers who get to school at 7AM and leave at 4PM–if they are lucky and do not have an after-school duty–if they still have work to do at home. Ask them how long it takes to give meaningful feedback on 150 3-page essays–none of which they can grade during the work day because they are, I will remind you, teaching multiple classes of 30 students. Ask them how long they will spend lesson planning on a Saturday to be able to re-teach what students were confused about on Friday in one period and extend what students were passionately curious about in another. Ask them how long they will spend tweaking and reworking their curriculum and lessons over the summer, not only because the state and district goals or standards are constantly changing, but because they as professional educators believe in constant improvement and in only the best for the next generation. Ask them how many continuing education courses and conferences they are attending during the school year and during the summer for similar reasons.

      Teachers are highly trained and highly educated professionals who put enormous amounts of work into their students, schools, and communities in ways that literally change the world for the better. They should be compensated as such.

    • Melissa says:

      Unfortunately, the busy season for teachers is 9 months a year, during which 70 hours a week is about the norm. Also, 3 months “off” is incorrect. It’s generally 2.5 months, during which continuing Ed is required to keep your teaching certificate, at your own expense. Of course those classrooms don’t spring up with all those borders, posters, bookshelves, door decorations, office supplies, etc. What you take for granted as given to you as an employee, most teachers must pay for, like staplers, tape, post It notes, glue, paper, Kleenex, pencils, pens, markers, shelving, file cabinets, pointers, decent desk chairs, copy paper, basically anything you see in the classroom, multiplied by 100+ students, on a stipend in our district of $200 for the year. Every teacher comes back weeks before school starts to haul crates of these items to the classrooms, then move furniture, and redecorate each year. The lesson planning, which takes hundreds of hours due to constant district and political changes yearly, must be done during the 2.5 month “vacation”. Your average pay raise is probably higher than the teacher norm of 0-3% yearly, or approximately $1,200 a year or $120 a month, before taxes. If the starting salary is $45k (our state is$35k), the pay tops out at about $65k, after your 25 – 30 years, and never increases again. GREAT incentives to go into the profession, right? It’s no wonder the schools are struggling to find teachers nowadays.

    • Erin says:

      This is what you made in your early days of accounting. This is what I make 12 year in in my state with extra education (41 K) including coaching. And my pay is frozen for another 8 years according to my salary schedule. National averages don’t paint a clear picture of state to state or district to district, either. You know how averages work. In some states or districts, my experience isn’t rewarded. I cost more to hire and since money is tight, interns or inexperienced teachers are preferred. It’s a backward administration system where experience isn’t rewarded but it is required, more responsibility is demanded but not compensated. Why do so many in the public assume that the thousands of teachers in America are all whining drama queens? Teachers from across the nation report the same issues, but so many roll their eyes because of summer breaks (which teachers did not invent)… It discredits everything else we are saying. If all teachers are saying the same thing, maybe the critical public should consider that it is the wrong one in all of this. There aren’t mass amounts of people leaving accounting or protesting the working conditions. I struggle to think of any other profession that is having the same issues and complaints and shortages and mass exoduses as the teaching profession. Accountants as professionals aren’t blasted on the new either. Maybe – just maybe – summer breaks aren’t enough because teaching really is as though as we are saying it is and maybe we don’t have the summer break that people think we do. It’s like me saying that your job is only busy during tax season. I have no idea what else you do all year besides taxes, but that’s the point – I have no idea, but it doesn’t mean your job is only about taxes.

      • Erin says:

        And 70 hours plus travel? Talk to any teacher who coaches a sport or drama or debate (which I did) or other academic competition about travel and weekends and long days for a measly $1500 (and I was lucky to get that) for a 7 month season.

        But you just do taxes in April, right?

      • Constance says:

        Add insult to injury…most states think the financial answer is to offer the new teachers a great increase in pay, so that the veteran teachers of ten plus years are peaking out….never to see another raise. Most states want Masters or better, but have opted out of paying additional for Masters degree. Maybe if we could play pro ball of any sort while we teach….or f we could sing a song on a record….hhhhmmmm Our large choir could be named The Dribbling Educator. ??✍?

    • Edie Schmidt says:

      Kari, you do not have a clue. I don’t know any teachers who put in 8 hour days, besides going in on the weekends and taking loads of work home. How do you think they have their room ready when school starts and it is Open House? They go in throughout the summer. They also spend many hours over the summer reviewing data, research and dissecting standards. You should shadow a teacher one week. You’d be exhausted just watching.

    • Jenny says:

      Teacher salary is based on number of days contracted to work. I work X number of days. I work until late May or early June. I have professional development requirements in June and July. I start back to work the last week of July and my students return the first Monday or Tiesday in August. 9 months my hiney. Also, I’m at the top of my pay scale. I have two Bachelor of Science Degrees, a Master of Arts degree, a national board teacher certification, and my principal license. Now, having said that, I get to see less than half of my salary because I have to purchase very expensive health insurance, pay taxes, dental and vision insurance are another expense, and in my state retirement comes out of our paycheck as we do not pay into Social Security. LESS THAN HALF do I get to bring home. I had to stop paying into 401K because insurances went so high. When (if) I am fortunate enough to retire, I cannot collect the SS that I paid in during my time as an insurance agent 25 years ago. I also cannot collect the SS my spouse has paid in. Yet, I daily go to my job. There is no month that I am not in my school building. I will continue to go to my job. Just think. Without teachers, you would not have your accounting degree. To bash is and imply that we make plenty of money and only work 9 months is an insult. When is the last time you spent $250 on supplies for 25 kids that belong to other people? When did you spend $500 decorating your office (equivalent to my classroom) so that it is inviting to the invaders you service each day.
      You have successfully insulted thousands of people. “It is better to be silent and believed to be ignorant than to open your mouth and prove it.”

    • Michele says:

      I’m a second grade teacher. I don’t even make $40,000. That would be lovely! It is workable but in all actuality we spend so much out of our own pockets for things for our classrooms, it’s ridiculous. The school budgets just don’t have it. Plus we work in those 9months what should be spread out until 12 months. Another thing…it’s not 9 months like when we were kids. Oh, no. It is 10 months. We get 2 months off. Our last day is May 27th and we go back July 31st! We even have professional development during the summer and some of us tutor, teach STEM camp or do some other form of teaching in summer. I also currently take advantage of the summer to double up on my courses to finish out my Master’s degree. So if you think that teacher’s get this dream job of great pay for “only nine months of work”, you are sadly mistaken. You should shadow a real teacher and see what we actually do!

    • Lauren says:

      Let get this straight. Every states pays their teachers a different salary based on their education and experience. So generalizing that every teacher gets $40-50K is such a misconception. There are many states that pay their teachers $27-$35K. Also you said that you work all year. Yea well teachers do as well. Just because they have off or have vacations doesn’t mean it’s actually a vacation. Teachers, especially the best ones will put in the extra time and that means they are working past the time YOU get out of work. So technically they are working just as much h as you are or even more. On top of that you said that you started out making $40-50K so what do you make now because I’m sure at this point you are making a hell of a lot more than any teacher who has been teaching for a while. Plus when teachers switch school districts they must start their salaries from the bottom again. I hope you educate yourself before making anymore incorrect judgements.

    • Coldy says:

      At what point in your career are you at? Who works 9 months? Summer School, Professional Development, planning for the coming year, and a vacation takes up the other 3 months. Get real.

    • Teacher jo says:

      $40-50 is an average salary…that takes into account the new teachers and veteran teachers of day, 35 years. A starting salary for teachers does not allow them to get on their feet as independent citizens. And if you must know, those extra 2-3 months are not spent relaxing on the beach with a drink in their hand. It is spent planning and taking classes for which the teacher is obligated to fund. Once you work as a teacher and get paid a teacher salary for at least one year, then you have the right to speak out about how teacher’s salaries are adaquete.

    • NBCT kindergarten teacher says:

      You are so uninformed about what teachers do both inside and outside the classroom. I do not know ANY teacher that only works 9 months a year. The school year for me is year round. If I’m not at school from 7am to 4 pm everyday, I’m grading papers all hours of the night and creating plans all weekend for what my students will be learning for the next week. Over the so-called summer I am attending workshops and professional development to keep up with the latest and best practices for teaching my students. Maybe you need to shadow a teacher to see what we really do before jumping to ill-informed conclusions.

    • Carrie says:

      Ha! I have been teaching for 18 years. I have a master’s degree and I just broke into the $40k range last year. I also work 10 months not nine. On top of that I am required to take down my classroom and pack it up at the end of the year, take classes during the summer (which I have to pay for out of pocket) and set my room back up before school starts. This takes an additional five weeks of time. I get 4 personal days each year, but I can’t take them executively. I have 20 minutes for lunch. Now, I love my job. It’s rewarding. But I find people who are uneducated about what teacher’s work is really like to be offensive. Your flippancy about teachers is offensive.

  • Julie says:

    I’m willing to make less if those in power make decisions based on best practices, especially smaller class sizes. $37000 a year would not seem like martredom if a teacher had twelve students to nurture. You can train the snot out of our teachers and double their pay but won’t get better results when half their job is crowd control.

    • Beth says:

      So true! The article is great, and your reply is something I’ve said for a few years now! Teaching in CA, I am happy with my salary (thanks to it being supplemented with my husband’s). What I can’t handle is a constant state of feeling overwhelmed and leaving each day feeling like I could have done so much more for my kids, but with a class max of 34, and so many hoops to jump through, not possible. That takes a huge toll on me, and I need something left to give my own children when I get home!

  • Jenna says:

    So, my question, the thing that haunts the recesses of my mind is, how to I keep doing this? I don’t have the money to support me, and I’m supporting all of these kids I love, but, I want my own. I’m not sure at what point I need to be realistic, have a stand off in the mirror and say, yes, this is what I was born to do, but I was also born to be a wife, and a mother, and this calling does not provide me with the resources to provide in the capacities of my life that exist outside of the four walls of my classroom.

    I have a special affinity for connecting with kids others may just not be able to reach. I don’t need a kid that’s stuck in their own world to come out, I’ll join them in theirs until they’re ready to come see what mine looks like. It’s something God gave me, and I had a family that fostered that within me. I don’t know which guilt is greater, and I know a decision has to come soon. I won’t be approved for a mortgage, I don’t have money to pay my bills from month to month. I live with 3 other adult women, 2 of whom are also teachers and 1 of whom is my wife. She works in a non-profit and makes about what I make. Combined, we make less than people right out of college, and people that made what may have been a better decision and didn’t go.

    So now, the question that remains is, do I fill out applications now, or wait? I don’t want to wait to have a family, and I couldn’t adequately support one right now either. The struggle is real!!

    • Marissa says:

      That’s my biggest question too, Jenna. I am worried that I will have to keep pouring everything I have into this and will never be paid enough to put a down payment on a house or pay off my student loans. As it is, I am not only teaching full-time- which I love- but I am also a graduate student struggling to afford the tuition payments on top of everything else.

  • Mary Voogd says:

    Thank you!

  • Talia says:

    Thank you so much! I get so upset when people say, ” how much fun is it to play all day!” ????There is so many hats we wear to ensure the students we have are learning, having fun and being safe all at the same time!

  • Mary says:

    That you! Thank you! Thank you! I appreciate your insights into the financial and emotional plight of many of the teachers across the country. As a 14 year Navy veteran and now a veteran teacher, I am committed to providing the best service to my countries future leaders.

  • J Ann says:

    Thank You! Teachers are taken advantage of because they love teaching! Teachers love witnessing kids make connections for the first time. It is like watching a baby take his/her first step, joy and admiration of an accomplishment of hard work. A teacher sees the potential in every student, great teachers push kids beyond their imaginations. I am grateful for a teacher that said “Yes, you can!” When others said “No way”.
    I caution the Michigan and America we are losing young and old teachers that love teaching but love their families too!
    We reap what we sow.

  • Lisa says:

    Thank you!! I am glad someone is sticking up for us!! Politicians make it harder wrvery year to remain in the profession.

  • Cab says:

    I appreciate your words. I’m a paraprofessional (Kindergarten 15 years) and I absolutely love what I do!

  • Holly says:

    True! As a special education teacher, I’m done being appreciated. I love my job. I love my students. I have had some students for 3 yrs now and have watched them grow. I’m not looking for a pin, coffee cup, or even a pat on the back. I would like a pay check that would allow me to move myself and my son out of my parents house. I’ve had to go back to school to defer debt because I couldn’t do it only to have more debt and 2 masters degrees. I felt that going back was the only way I was going to be able to make a living, as a single mom, to get ahead for my son. Now I’m having to choose between my current job that I love or an administrative position just so I can get in the black and not in the red.

  • mcca2974 says:

    Thank you. I’ve only been teaching for 11 years, but today I was given my schedule for next year which included not only early bus duty, but also lunch room duty because kids are too unruly for the lunch room aids to handle. (There’s a great big thank you, right?) Also, my prep is split into 3 segments. 10 min. first thing in the morning, 20 min. after my 35 min. lunch and then 5 min. after my last class. (Really?) On top of that, I will have 9 thirty-five minute classes per day. (Someone smack me upside the head for signing my contract for next year before I saw this schedule!!!) I predict one more year of teaching and I’m outa there!!

  • Jill Erdman says:

    From a 22-year veteran, high school teacher, I say THANK YOU.

  • teacher-librarian says:

    7 years teaching, no raise. Finally got one, and I now get about $5 more per check. Wow

  • Ellen says:

    Thank yo! I’ve been teaching for thirty years and hope to do eight to ten more because I absolutely love it and can’t imagine doing anything else. I just want people to understand we are not miracle workers. If a senior comes in with a horrible attitude or a freshman puts forth no effort, I can’t always wave a magic wand and get them to learn. However, I am expected to. I think something that would help would be if the anti-intellectual politicians would change their tune.

  • Allison says:

    I teach history for 8th graders… With an MA in history. I am often spoken down to, and I am told how I should be greatful for summers. My job doesn’t account for all the tutoring, research, and extra sponsoring of events. I don’t want a card, I want to be taken seriously. I leave at 6 am and return at 6-7pm. I make my students understand history through academic historical methods, thus, giving them all a jump start in high school and college.

    Thank you for understanding.

    I wanted to hit the representative in Michigan when he shamed teachers for striking in Detriot. He had no idea what it is to live on a teacher salary, and would never give his time for free, as he had clearly sold his soul for power. Yet a teacher works for a wage, but provides heart and soul for free.

  • Carrie says:

    This is my twentieth year teaching. After telling my son that I can’t afford to buy him new cleats for football, we head to the food bank. It’s that bad in Oklahoma. Thanks for speaking out. I have a master’s degree and still bring home less than $35,000 per year. It’s terrible.

  • Here is the fatal flaw that teachers made — they put a Union between them and the people they need the support from. That Union aggressively attacks over half of the population of the US (conservatives/republicans). The Unions aggressively fund against 2/3rds of the electorate. They have established anyone outside of the Dem party as “the enemy”. In net – Teachers made themselves POLITICALLY TOXIC. Meanwhile, the pay and benefits of the teachers continue to decline. Perhaps teachers need to reassess the organization they are placing all of the power of their career and pay scales to. So far, the teaching career has only gone downhill since the union stepped in. My Mom was a teacher. My Granny was a teacher. I would love to be a teacher but will not as I do not support the political party of the union I would be forced into joining (or ostracized if I don’t). Think about it.

    • Fred says:

      Excellent comment Mom! They need to figure out how to make our students competitive with students from other countries entering the job market in the U.S. If you want to protest, protest exporting our best jobs overseas. Protest anti-American politicians in Washington D.C. Protest anti-Christian politicians that are supposed to serve a country founded on Christian principals. Teachers need to stop supporting illegal immigration – especially for financial reasons. Figure out how to help lower the percentages for drug and alcohol abuse, unplanned pregnancies and many other roadblocks to success.

    • Donna says:

      I am not in agreement with you here. Several years ago I forfeited my union membership because 1) I could no longer afford the dues and 2) I didn’t reap any benefit by being a member. I know many teachers who have done the same thing. No raise in nine years means having to cut corners just to stay above water and that was an easy choice to make. However, I have not reaped any benefits by not being a union member either, other than a few extra bucks in each paycheck that would have been going to them.

  • TeachersPet says:

    When you are managed by government you are managed by politics. Teachers most definitely deserve more, but that will only most likely occur if they work in a competitive environment.
    I never understood why public schools, social security, and the VA are some of the few government programs that employ its own system and do not give its “customers” CHOICE where to spend THIER government provided funds. Imagine if welfare recipients, Medicare or Medicaid recipients were forced to only shop where they are “zoned”, and only at facilities that are employed and managed by government. Those recipients would flip out. Why?
    I come from a family full of public educators who ALL strongly discouraged me from going into education as a proffesion. THAT IS SAD. They all loved the kids but hated the system.
    My point is that teachers deserve better. But, until parents have a choice and schools become competitive, teachers salaries will always be a consequence of political management and not what the market thinks they deserve. I’m certainly glad I don’t depend on the government to determine my pay. It really is a feeling of……freedom. Kudos to all the hard working teachers out there who don’t get what that they deserve!

  • Sarah says:

    Amen, Kate!!

  • Just curious to know how much salary does a teacher make. I kept hearing upward of 60,000 all over the media… is this an actual figure? That just seems much too high for any complaing, and would like an actual amount.

    • Missy says:

      In my district we make 45,000 a year….and work 50-60 hours (minimum!) a week. With a Master of Arts! Tell me that’s not something to complain about…

    • Jen says:

      This is my 10th year in NC. With a Masters degree I make 39 k. I work 7:30-4:30/5:00 just about everyday. We have 10 weeks in the summer (2-3 weeks full of workshops, meetings and preparing a classroom). I saved every receipt for 2015 taxes. I spent 679.90 on classroom supplies and books. Sadly, I had to tone down my spending because I felt it was unjust not to contribute to my own daughter’s 529 college savings. My husband is a high school assistant principal. He only makes 53 k for 12 months and normally puts in at least 60 plus hours a week. We will strongly encourage our girls to seek a different profession.

    • Melissa says:

      The pay range varies state to state, as well as district to district within each state. Since both state and local taxes are used, the poorest districts get the least monies in many cases. It also depends on how “top heavy” the district is with administrators, which can lower the teacher pay. The national average might well be $60k because NY, California, and other states where basic incomes and housing costs are extremely high compared to the rest of the nation are figured in. I know in SC the statewide average is roughly $35k to start, and tops out at about $50k, after 30 years. NC is slightly higher, probably around $41k at the outset. The average pay increase, if there is no freeze is about 2 to 3 percent, approximately $1k, $85 per month, before taxes. There are many variables which affect each district and state, but perhaps this aids your understanding of the plight many educators are in, especially households where both parents are teachers. Our daughter and son in law are both third year teachers, with an infant, and their combined incomes are less than $75k a year, plus he has his Masters degree. They also carry approximately $65k in student loan debt, which is in forebearance currently due to the baby. One of them will probably be forced out of the profession in the next few years, which will be a shame for the next generation.

    • Ashley says:

      You can look at the salary schedule for any district online. They are required to post it. Take a look at a large district and then a smaller one to get an idea of range. Also? “Livable wage” has a whole lot to do with where you live. Unfortunately, teachers’ salaries are not tied to cost of living. When considering the amount of education (formal/expensive degrees and ongoing professional development), teachers are ridiculously underpaid.

      • Michele says:

        It is not the pay that bothers me. The problem that is becoming out of control is discipline! More and more children are coming into the public schools with emotional issues that I am not equipped to handle. Elementary students that throw chairs, have melt downs, pull teacher’s hair, yell obscenities, and talk nonstop. No, this is not just happening in the inner city. The suburbs are experiencing many students with major emotional issues. It is incredibly hard to teach when the above disturbances are taking place. I know it is frightening and almost impossible for other students learn.

    • Crystal W says:

      Southwest Missouri tends to start out between $30,000 and $35,000.

    • Paige says:

      I bring home less than $30,000 dollars a year… I work an average of 10-12 hours a day and the behavior in my classroom can get unreal at times. I love teaching! Don’t get me wrong! When that light bulb turns on and you see it in their eyes, that’s what keeps me going. They all have their own wonderful personalities! I’m a fairly new teacher and have quickly realized that it’s more of keeping a class under control with behavior problems than actually teaching. I have no support from parents. Usually I feel that not only am I the teacher to these precious kiddos, I am their parent. I work in a very low income area with minimal involvement from the parents. I am in a testing grade… I don’t even know what to say about STAAR. The amount of pressure and responsibility that the state puts on teachers is very disheartening. I can’t tell you how many times I have broke down in tears these past few months. The stress level is insane. The state expects you to teach 2 years of material where the students learn it and they ACTUALLY know it and wants us to cram it down their throat in 6 months. The kids are given the information, but they really don’t have enough time to absorb it before they are on to the next objective. These kids need to be kids. Most days you are confronted with this teacher you don’t want to be… I don’t know how many conversations I have had with myself regarding recess. I know the kids should go, but I still have these Teks that the kids have not mastered because there is not enough time to do it all. I feel so guilty that that is even a conservation I have to have with myself. I battled with that a lot last year, and this year I make recess a priority, and I make time for reading novels, and I have realized the kids and I are much happier. Are my scores as high as they were last year? No, but my classroom is a much happier place.

  • Marion says:

    Thank you! I actually take home less than I did 10 years ago. Frozen at a pay step with no hope of a raise and rising health insurance. I got nothing this year from patents or students!

  • Susan says:

    I just saw a news report about a $6.2 million football stadium being built for a high school, A HIGH SCHOOL. I feel it is ridiculous to put that much money into a sport when our teachers are barely scrapping by.

    • Dave says:

      Allen, Texas opened their nationally-reported HIGH SCHOOL football stadium which cost a measly $60 million (that’s right — MILLION!!), then had to close it for almost 18 months due to “excessive cracking” in the concrete of the concourse (in fairness, a healthy chunk of that money went for the 38-foot video scoreboard).

      The stadium WAS paid for by a bond package, and Allen pays better than a lot of districts in Texas. As for the state pay schedule for teachers, many school districts pay above the state minimum (for 2015-2016 it was $28,080 for a first-year teacher; $45,510 for a teacher with 20+ years of service).

      I guess what irks me the most are those who want to dismantle the system and make it a “competitive” system, which will only further disadvantage the poor. Or, like the joke of a commentary posted earlier from Forbes, those who don’t see why they should have to pay for the school system when they don’t have children in school. On that second point, those holing this view should remember that it’s highly likely that more than one person in that same boat helped to pay for YOUR education! Often, this is the same crowd that preaches “personal responsibility” while totally bemoaning (or ignoring) their social responsibility.

  • Lindsay says:

    Thank you for you article. I am a public school librarian that has one masters degree and will finish a masters in library science in the next eight months. My state has under funded schools so my job is on the chopping block. I’ve been told that most likely I will be placed back in the classroom, but I am so frustrated that the state requires certification/masters in library and I spend all this money working on one – not to mention time away from my young children – and it was for nothing. I can’t even get a pay increase because our salaries are frozen. I hope that out legislator and governor wake up to the fact that they are hurting not just librarians but all teachers and especially hurting our students by keeping exceptional teachers from wanting to enter this profession!

  • Krista Lynn says:

    I sit on a school board and the simple answer to why teachers aren’t paid appropriately is taxes. Everyone wants lower taxes and this is how schools keep their budgets as low as possible. I don’t agree with it, I believe teachers should be paid more than a livable wage, and I’m okay with paying taxes to ensure that.

  • Jean5720 says:

    As a former school board member I would like to discuss some of the problems I came across while on the board. First. we had one elementary teacher, hired before I was on the board, for his ability to coach football not his teaching ability. I went into his classroom and was shocked at the misspelled words on the chalk board. Computer logs verified parental concerns that he was playing fantasy football most of the day and not teaching third grade. His student test scores were awful. Could we fire him? No. It would take at least $250,000.00 in legal fees and a staff member devoted almost full-time to document his lack of performance. He is still teaching, or should I say showing up for work. Although the school had horrible reading scores and way too many children were below grade level in math and reading, efforts to bring in educators skilled in teaching these subjects and improving teaching methods and student learning were met with no cooperation from the teachers who felt they were teaching “experts” and did not need to do anything differently.

    As for paying teachers more, we are crippled by national debt. How much interest are we paying on the debt? Tax dollars to pay teachers can’t be collected from employees of companies who no longer are headquartered in this country and have moved jobs elsewhere. Our tax policy affects teacher salaries and retirement.

    • Adi says:

      Hi Jean!

      So just to clear this up: teachers’ should not get paid fairly because of teachers like this? I agree, there are teachers like this, but that number is sooo small compared to teachers who pour their heart out in the classroom. And EVERY TIME, those teachers are let go. A lot has changed from that golden word: tenure. Teachers are constantly observed and pushed, but a lot of educators come in because they want to make a difference in the classroom.

      i think it would be unfair to use that stereotypical example to argue that teachers’ should be paid more appropriately.

      And national debt: that’s more sound, but does that prevent the government from spending? Either way the education system and people’s perspective of teachers and the value of education is messed up.

    • Susie Q says:

      If u can’t get rid of a poor teacher, it’s because you have a poor principal & supt. Document, document!

    • Erin says:

      If education were valued more than athletics, this would not be an issue because teachers would be hired to teach – period. If teachers really were compensated for the job, the bottom of the barrel wouldn’t need to be scraped for a warm body. And $250,000 doesn’t seem too much to ask for the lifetime of harm that could be caused. But the sport is more valuable, and there may not be a warm body to replace it because the ones with integrity and talent are being driven out.

  • Kimberly says:

    Just looked up another teacher salaries report and they pretty much what I’m making with 20 years experience and a college degree, plus teachers generally have great benefits. Why is the wage ok for me but not teachers? Actually in my area one report shows teachers make $wok more than me in my city. So why the complaining???? If I am unhappy with my wage then I should look for another job – why should teachers be any different??? Get another job if it’s so terrible!

    • Susan says:

      I suggest you walk a mile in the shoes of a teacher before developing and sharing your opinion. I make just under $27,000 after 14 years of experience. I make less than I made my first year teaching in 1995. I start my day at 7:30 AM and leave school between 7:00-8:00 PM carrying 2 huge bags of work home. It’s a rare occasion that I am not working on a Saturday or Sunday. If you are passionate about the work you do, then it’s next to impossible to walk away from it in spite of the rising problems. In my state you rarely find any teacher who has a master’s degree with 20+ years of experience making over $48,000. If you stop and think about it, many children come to school without their basic needs being met. As teachers we end up spending our time not only helping our students master objectives, but also playing the role of parent In order to help those children have their basic needs met. more and more is expected while the salary stays unchanged. This is just from a person who is very passionate about teaching children, but doesn’t feel very respected for that passion anymore!

  • “teachers generally have great benefits.” – oh really?! In the last 15 years, the benefits have eroded significantly. My husband is a teacher; he has worked in 6 school districts in 4 states during his career. He has two masters degrees so is topped out on the lanes part of the salary schedule and is nearly bottomed out on the steps part of the salary schedule. In Utah (where we live now), he just hit $60K per year for the first time. We have 4 children; the threshold for free/reduced lunch for a family of 6 is $57,000. We use my benefits because his cost $700 more per month for family coverage (they are cheap for administrators and cover their entire family; for teachers, they only subsidize the teacher’s portion of the insurance but not the dependents). He teaches high school choir. That qualifies him for an extra $2200 a year, which is supposed to compensate him for all the after school festivals, rehearsals, and performances. I tracked his hours outside of contract time and with a month to go in the school year, he’s worked an extra 321 hours. So that $2200 is $6.88 per hour. This summer, as he does every summer, he will deep clean his classroom (which is large), reorganize his music library, plan the choir tour, assess his needs for new music, and select music for the next year’s concerts so it can be ordered. Well, he has 5 performing groups that do 4 concerts per year, an an average of 4 pieces per concert for 4 groups and 6 pieces for one group. To pick 88 pieces of music for the concerts, he usually reviews 4-5 pieces per piece selected. It takes him 10 minutes to review one piece of music. That’s 66 hours straight of music review. I could go on, but you get the idea.

  • Kia says:

    I’m a “daycare provider” which means longer days and less pay! But I absolutely adore, love,and need what I do. Even thought economically we need or deserve more many of us would do it for free

  • Allison says:

    I’m in my second year of teaching and so exhausted! It’s shocking how people think we do so little. “You get the whole summer off… I’ll bet that’s nice.” “You babysit and color all day.” “You play all day.” I’ve stopped defending myself because they won’t know until they’ve been in my room what it’s really like. The pay and lack of respect is disheartening. Luckily, I’m not in it for the money. I”m in it for the kids. It’s my calling and it’s in my heart. If others recognized what our job really was, changes could be made. But our country as a whole does not value or appreciate teachers and I don’t see that changing any time soon.
    Thank you for “not” appreciating us! This was very encouraging and a good reminder of why we do what we do!

  • Piper says:

    Teachers are awesome and I have respect for everything they have done for myself and others in order to get into my profession, but I think a major problem in the decreased salary is looking at the months worked. If I had more than my 6 paid holidays off, I’d make significant less money also. Other countries have school all year long and if teachers got paid their current rate for a full 12 months of work they would potentially make a more manageable salary. Stinks, but that’s how the job goes. With that being said, I think I’d gladly take a decreased salary to enjoy the beautiful weather in the summer and more time with my family over the holidays.

    • Caren White says:

      Piper, the days off for summer, winter and spring break are unpaid days. Teachers get NO paid vacation. And much of the summer is spent continuing education for maintaining certification, planning and preparing materials, packing up and unpacking a classroom and resting from the 10-12 hour days (of which 7.5 hours are paid, plus the evening required times and take home work every weekend. And most teachers pay for necessary supplies out of pocket due to budget cuts and poor families. Times are definitely changing since I retired from 31 years of teaching 6th grade. I volunteer 10 hours every day in my daughter’s first grade class. I see major changes in the children. Many are disrespectful, inattentive, neglected and non English speaking. I recommend that you volunteer in a school for a year. I guarantee you will change your tune if you last even one month.

  • Debbie Curry says:

    In the state of Alabama they gave teachers a four percent raise after no raises for eight years. Then the state raised insurance rates which will take most of the raise if not all of it.

  • Jessica says:

    I have been teaching for two years now directly out of college. Unfortunately due to all of these issues you are addressing I am contemplating leaving this career. The sad part is, I know I’ve made a difference which is exactly why we all do it. But I want to be able to provide for a family one day and feel supported in what I do. Thank you so much for this post!

  • Linda says:

    Teachers are expected to “work for peanuts” as my Dad would say, because they love children. After all, if you love children, you must be doing the job for love, not for money. It’s not 1886 anymore, when teachers were paid with potatoes or apples! If children are truly important, then those who teach them, care for them, and keep them safe all day, deserve a paycheck accorded to those responsibilities!

  • Edye says:

    In the state of Texas, salary steps stop at twenty years, but you need more than twenty years to retire with full benefits. Some districts may offer a few additional steps, but three is the most I’ve heard. As a recently retired teacher with a master’s degree (worth $500 extra) I taught 36 years. The last thirteen without a raise. Due to cut backs our district has had to make, I actually worked for less money the last three years. It’s a sad state of affairs.

  • Mkellogg says:

    ❤️ It’s May, that’s all I can muster for a comment. ❤️

  • Sheri says:

    I am just finishing my 18th year of teaching with a special education degree. My assignment this year is teaching severe special needs with ID students. My plan time is split, 20 minutes in the morning and 25 minutes in the afternoon, with students in my room the entire day. I have spent more money on classroom supplies this year than any other year, because I have so many different levels of instruction. I have clothed children who wore rags. I’ve feed children who were hungry. I’ve supplied shower time at school for kids who were dirty. I’ve spent many hours in parent meetings drying tears. I’ve cried myself to sleep and laughed myself to tears. I’ve listened to screaming all day from children who can’t regulate, yet go home to parent my own three children with little patience because it’s been exhausted. I provide unconditional love and carry reach child in my heart 24/7. I answer to Mom several times a day. I help to toilet train and teach cleanliness. Oh, I also teach reading, writing, arithmetic, social skills, daily living skills, science, and social studies. I write individual goals for each child and assess these goals and work towards teaching these goals all year. I may need to work on one goal for several months and some may never reach their goal. The list can go on forever. The bottom line is that I love my job and the kids NEED me. I am right where I need to be, but the struggle is real. I couldn’t support my family without the income of my husband. I’ve had to work up to 3 jobs to support myself when I was single. I barely make 40,000.00 a year and bring home about 28,000.00. We don’t have our summers off. We are being compensated for time already worked. We get paid a salary for a 40 hour work week, but put in 50-60 hours a week. I also spend my “summer” planning lessons, memorizing 35 page IEP’s, visiting with students, etc…. If I’m lucky, I may get to take a week long vacation with my family. Thank you to everyone who has spoken up and provide support.

  • JD says:

    Thank you a still up working on an IEP for my severely and profound physically and complex students. Good night as I have wheelchairs to push and braces to put on to stand my students tomorrow which is today.

  • I vote says:

    During teacher appreciation week, time magazine quoted Republican representative Kevin Cotter as saying Detroit public-school teachers were egotistical, selfish and misguided for wanting to be paid for their work. Teacher appreciation?

  • benjamin says:

    Just to really drive the points made in the article home, I thought I would comment. I teach middle school and I am actually buying a house right now. The only hitch is, it was only possible for me by going through the affordability program run by the city. My income is 78% of the Area Median Income. Should teachers have to use the services designed for the “poor” in our communities?

  • Lauren says:

    Amen, brotherman. I am a public school teacher on a single income. I do not spend my money on frivolous things outside of the occasional Starbucks. I am completely floored as to how I am expected to do my job within the confines of school hours and still teach effectively on a salary that most people scoff at.

    I have tried taking on a second job, and I work 40 hours a week in the summer, all summer, every summer. However, a second job during the school year detracts from the time I spend at home preparing lesson plans, grading assessments and homework, working on endorsements that I am required to add to my certificate, etc.

    Everybody loves teachers, but the second we open up the conversation about the offensively low pay, people start saying things like, “You knew what you were getting into,” and acting like we’re being ridiculous, whiny, and selfish. Don’t even get me STARTED on the the non-existent benefits of maternity leave.


  • Jamie says:

    I am really tired of appreciating teachers too. The difference is that I am tired of being told what saints teachers are for making these sacrifices. Everyone enters the profession of teaching knowing the pay scale and somehow you all seem surprised that teachers have lower compensation than others with the “same” degrees. The truth is that education departments in the universities around the country have some of the lower test scores for both college entrance and GRE tests. In fact, many studies show that your college major probably is great indicator of intelligence:

    What this article and the responses to it represent is group-think. “We work hard and should be paid more…” echoes through the halls of every school out there. Everyone is paid what their job is worth in the economy. If teaching at a public school was worth more, then you would be paid more. If you don’t like what you are paid, go find a job that pays better.

    • Lauren says:

      Is that why Finland has the best education in the world? Because they devalued teachers and they pay teachers an unlivable wage with long hours and lots of work? Also why don’t you ask why we as a nation have such low test scores compared to Finland which ranks the highest. If you are going to pull up articles and devalue teachers then please ask yourself how you are at the place you are right now, able to read, write, calculate and so forth.

    • Teacher jo says:
      So now please explain where in this article it talks about all of the teachers who have a bachelor’s degree in history/biology/mathematics/psychology BEFORE getting a degree in education. Also, is it possible that the statistics here have lurking variables such as: if an education major spends much time in psychology and pedagogy classes, might they score lower on the GRE than someone who has been taking engineering courses during that same time.

      Using a poorly conducted study is not a good reason to say that educators are any less intelligent than you. In fact, it leads others to believe the opposite.

      • Jamie says:


        Do you seriously believe that a study of multiple tests conducted over 60 – 70 years is poorly done? Do you understand how statistics work? Sure, you will have some teachers that have gotten other degrees and are going to graduate school in education. Those are the ones most likely to score higher than the teacher average. However, it is quite clear from the study of standardized tests (SAT, GRE, AGCT, and SSCQT) over this time period (involving MILLIONS of people) that education and agriculture majors score on the bottom of these exams.

        Now that I think about it, farmers also complain about not getting paid enough and feel under-appreciated. I am seeing a pattern here.

    • Ann says:

      And that is exactly what my mother did because of people like you. She became an engineer and made a boat load more money. Meanwhile, Dad stayed in teaching and lagged behind even though he has a MS and mom doesn’t. That was 35 years ago and attitudes are worse toward teachers today. That’s why there is a shortage of teachers today. Education is essential to future success of the nation. We can do better for our future.

  • Bobbie says:

    I taught for 27 years before having to take an early retirement in Texas. I was RIF’d with only 2 years left before I could take a full retirement. The nearest job opening in my field (elementary music) was over 125 miles away. Instead of leaving at 6:30 am for a one hour commute, I would have to leave at 5 am for a 2 1/2 hour drive. We lived in a small town of less than 1000, so to find any job the minimum commute was 35-40 miles, and those were the minimum wage jobs. Anything above that you had to have specialized training (i.e. millwright, architecture, drafting, etc.). With gas prices at the $3-$4 level at that time, it made it difficult. When I took the early retirement, it cost me nearly 25% of my retirement. I also lost insurance coverage, too. When I was teaching, I had to pay half the coverage for me (the school paid the other half ). When I added my husband to my insurance, it took an extra $600 more each month out of my check. I am now considered disabled, but since Texas schools had the choice of either paying Social Security or Texas Teacher Retirement, all but 5 of the districts chose the retirement system. So now I can’t draw SS Disability. People don’t realize that a teacher’s 9 month salary is actually spread out over 12 months. And then you have administrators who tell you HOW to do your job and teach your class. Don’t get me wrong, I loved teaching. If I didn’t, I would have left a long time ago. But until something happens to improve the teaching field, it’s going to get worse. Athletics take priority over academics, especially in Texas (example: $6 million high school football stadium). Salaries need to be addressed, working conditions need attention, and a host of other issues need attention, too. Until these issues are addressed, colleges and universities wil graduate fewer and fewer teachers. Then what will happen???

  • Karen says:

    I was a teacher, but quit because the stress kept going up and the incentives kept going down. We were treated terrible by the administration, jerked around constantly being told to do it another new way and immediately evaluated and told we didn’t measure up. The bar was set so high it was laughable. We had no say in how to run our classrooms and forced to expect inhuman things from children. I couldn’t sleep some nights because of something I had said to an eight year old! There just wasn’t any job satisfaction. In fact, I found myself hating what I was being told to do. I felt run ragged and set up for defeat. It was heartbreaking seeing how some of my fellow teachers were being treated. These were teachers that loved children and had a passion for education. But because their personalities didn’t fit the new methods, they were targeted. Every little thing they did was criticized and judged. They had evaluators in their classrooms constantly. If they struggled with the equipment during a lesson or a student misbehaved, they were dinged. It was brutal. So I quit. I am so concerned with the direction education has taken. Will a whole generation of children end up hating learning? Who would want to pursue this profession? If you talk to teachers today, most of them are extremely unhappy. In the 70s when I chose education and asked people in the profession about their jobs, they loved what they did! Everyone knew teaching didn’t pay….but, those that chose it did so because of what they got to do everyday, not the money. Today, I believe teachers deserve 6 figure incomes because the demands and stress probably exceed professions that earn that much!

  • Lupita Samuels says:

    Some people say that teaching is a part time job. But they don’t see the amount of time a teacher spends at home mentally planning, preparing props, testing experiments, pre-reading books, correcting papers, and writing lesson plans with differentiation to address the different skill levels in the classroom. Unlike most other jobs, a teacher’s job does not end at the end of the school day. A teacher’s job is 24/7.

  • Lucy Kiyuna says:

    Kate Kooyman This is well said! Teachers have been taken for granted by us (society). We let this injustice go on , who wipes away our children’s tear when they fall at school? Who gives them encouragement and praise when we (parents) are not there?
    Who sits thru their lunch hour in the classroom so one of their kids can finish their class work ? (Think about that working parents next time you are asked to work thru your lunch- we demand we get pay for it!).
    The “honchos” in the education department across our country have no idea .,… Clueless ……what these front line teachers go thru.

    We (society) need to unite and be our teachers voice, to our congressmans, representatives , lawmakers. Let’s start asking them why do you demand so much from them ( teachers) yet you and us (society) do not compensate them . The way other professions get compensated? Why?

  • Lily says:

    Love your post! Unfortunately in nyc the beginning salary for a teacher was 28,800 before 2001. After we got a raise. Starting went up to 40,000. At the same time we got that raise, the cost of living went up!!! Homes went into the 600,000! They are now one million in the boroughs, forget Manhattan. Still can’t afford a house. Govt wants to help us by opening up homes on the hud list in less desirable areas. Not really fun to feel like your in danger when you go home. Just never going to catch up. I didn’t go into teaching. I’m a speech therapist but NYC chunk us all on the same pay scale.

  • Theresa says:

    It is definitely time to give teachers a well deserved raise and make their pay commensurate with the education and experience that they have (and the wonderful service they provide to the community).

  • Disbeliever says:

    While I value really good teachers and think it is a difficult job in some ways, in others I think as a population there is too much whining as if you are the only career choice that has struggles or yours are more important. I don’t agree with your opinion on this at all, and this is a pretty good summary why:

    • Dawn says:

      Wow, just wow. First of all, this article is from 5 years ago, you obviously have no idea the changes that have been made in education the last 5 years. Teachers can get fired, tenure no longer completely protects you, which is a good thing. As far as the pay, you seem to be forgetting that it is an average in which, yes, there are teachers who make a lot of money, those teachers have also been teaching for many many years, deserving pay increases, just like any other profession. I have been in my district for 9 years, have a master’s degree, and make 45k, I don’t necessarily think my pay is bad, but I also don’t think I’m making a ton of money. Yes I get summers “off” during which time I’m getting my classroom ready for the next year, researching new concepts and ideas, learning new curriculum because they keep changing our learning standards, and trying to give my own children some extra time knowing that once the school year starts, they don’t get nearly as much of me as they deserve. My friends have a count down for the end of the school year, they celebrate getting their friend back for a few short months, until August when I’m back in the classroom and have a very limited amount of time for anyone or anything other than teaching and caring for my new group of students. I’m not complaining about my career, I love what I do and couldn’t imagine doing anything else. I am complaining about people like you who have no idea what it’s really like to be a teacher and spew opinions like they’re facts, walk a mile in my shoes, then let me know what you think.

  • 42 students says:

    40-50k would be a dream. 30 students would be too! I can’t get full time because they don’t want to pay me insurance, so instead they stack my classes. I have 42 students in each class. The classrooms only have seats for 40 students so I have to play musical chairs with whomever is out sick. I have no home room and carry all my stuff in my bag, I haven’t been given a dime for supplies, I don’t even have a pair of scissors! I teach two sections of digital photography, and one section of ceramics. The students bring me cameras that are worth more than my 20 year old car and I’m expected to keep up on the technology but can’t actually afford to even get my hands on it! Last semester I had over 160 students between 4 classes, no prep period, a million papers to grade and literally couldn’t put food on the table. I went from serving tables and being treated like low life scum, who at least could pay my bills, to a teacher who is supposed to know everything, but doesn’t get paid enough to eat! I’ve had to go back to waiting tables in addition to teaching. At least waiting tables I get a meal for each shift… My husband- who is still in school- was studying elementary education worked in an elementary school last year as a behavioral specialist. He made $8.50 an hour to deal with kids who had mental health issues. After a first grade girl tried to stab her teacher, not to mention everything else- he decided he wanted nothing to do with the profession. I give myself enough time to finish putting him through and I think I’ll probably go back to waiting tables full time, where I leave work at work and they don’t expect me to purchase and cook all the food for them on my own time!

  • Michelle says:

    Thank you…. have been a teacher for 20 years….. working with disadvantage students…. every year the budget gets cut, don’t even get a cost of living raise and if I need supplies I have to pay for them my self….. I absolutely love what I do, but at the same time having a difficult time surviving…. again thank you for your kind words and support

  • Valerie says:

    Thank you!!

  • jwntx says:

    My mother was a teacher. I’m a teacher. But can you seriously argue that the product from 95% of the schools in the country today warrant even more money being thrown at them? I consider myself an exceptional teacher, but have come to grips with the fact that my profession has a huge majority of sorry teachers and I have to live with the attendant consequences.

  • Jeffrey Mann says:

    High School Science teacher here … You get a card and a latte? Damn, not only do I get paid crap, I did not even get a wink and a thumbs-up for teacher appreciation day. Good thing I love my job!

  • Sara says:

    Thank you. After Scott Walker became governor in WI, the climate wad horrid. People blamed teachers for everything and called us entitled, saying we had no right to such a high salary and benefits when they did not. The anger and resentment from the tax payers of the community was vitriolic. I wouldn’t even leave my school parking sticker in my car when I went about town. Once I was at a store in the parking lot and a man saw a teaching sticker I had on my car. He approached me with clenched fists, swearing and calling me names. Fortunately, my husband was there and he stepped between me and the man while I called the police. I love my job, but I want to be valued too. I don’t deserve to be treated like a criminal for teaching children.

  • Lisa Cross says:

    I am a 5th grade teacher in Michigan. I logged my hours for one year. I included lesson planning grading and after school meetings. This did NOT include any professional development to keep my certification. If you work 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, EVERY week of the year with no sick days, you would have worked the same amount of hours I did that year.

  • Michelle Schneider says:

    This was nice. but one kind of teacher is missing,,,the preschool teacher. I have been one for many years. Those of us who choose this profession get paid less than ‘regular teachers’ even though we are educated and have gone to college. I do lesson plan,work year round, continue my education through many required in service training and we work without any protection from any unions so we cannot go on strike. While many teachers are joyful to get a snow day, we are on the road and working our snow days. Our salary is less, most don’t get sick leave and our profession doesn’t get any respect , Sadly those who show that disrespect are fellow teachers who work for elementary and higher grade levels though we do most of the same work they do.We also work many after school hours too.All teachers should get the same respect and recognition for what they do year round.

  • Michelle Schneider says:

    How sad that my profession as a preschool teacher was not good enough to keep my comment. We are educated, paid less, work after hours and year round. Other teachers rejoice in snow days while we are on the road through a blizzard getting to work.I do lesson plans like the teachers who teach elementary and higher, continue my education and in service training , but get less respect than other teachers including fellow teachers.

  • Kelli P says:

    Thank you. I’m sorry to say that it’s not enough to get a raise, though. After many years of having our pay not only frozen, but reduced on at least on occasion, teachers fought for and won a long deserved raise, The the starting wage for teachers is higher now than what many of our experienced teachers were earning, and the district restructured the entire pay scale, which gave all teachers “some” increase — though I’ve heard of teachers making no more than $2 more while others have gotten an increase of well over $1,000 dollars annually. But then, in retaliation for our increase in pay, our health insurance out of pocket costs have increased beyond belief, though we were told that our costs would be decreased. Add to that the fact that they’re increasing class sizes, increasing nearly quadrupling the cost of “professional development” courses, and making it nearly impossible for us to move up on the pay scale from here on out. When you consider the increase in medical expenses alone, instead of an “increase” in pay, I (and far to many other teachers in my district) have taken a huge hit financially speaking. So you can see why “getting a raise” isn’t necessarily the be all and end all. If anyone knows of a district out there that actually respects their teachers and pays them a living wage, I’d love to have you share!

  • Amanda says:

    Supply versus demand. If the pay and/or other benefits is so bad, there would no one who would want to do this job. But where I live, we have certified teachers being paraprofessionals because there is a glut of teachers. There has to be some benefit. You say love of the profession, and that is your choice. You can deal with the requirements or do what countless others have done, and switch to a higher paying profession, but if things were so bad, supply would not meet demand, and it does.

    • Dave says:

      Amanda: as in many things, I have no doubt that there are pockets where an overabundance of teachers is the case. As a whole, it would be nice if it were that simple; unfortunately, that really only applies to a job, not a calling. The bigger issue is this: the expectation of having a professional prepare the next generation to move our society forward, but not being willing to appreciate and support those who take on that expectation.

  • JessM says:

    I am a substitute teacher…and most of the time when I sub in a class there is not enough planned for the kids to do in that time…so I got creative and started bring in my own stuff. I have a different classroom with different kids about everyday. I am still expected to provide anything extra just in case the teacher doesn’t leave enough work. I have to purchase my own activities for the children of all different grades b/c I rarely know what grade I’m going to be in the day before and my wages dont even come close to what I spend…I have to have a second job just to be able to afford other things. I say we take some of our elected officials and have them live on our pay for a while and do our jobs…chances are things would turn around quickly. We are the ones that are shaping the next generation….why don’t we deserve to be paid as anything less?

  • Fred says:

    I have been teaching for over 20 years, and it has gotten extremely tough lately. My state, Georgia, has not given teachers a cost of living raise in 6 years, but they have slashed our benefits. My wife is disabled due to heart disease, and the hospital bills from her bypass surgery forced us into bankruptcy. Since I teach high school theatre, I spend countless hours with students outside of school hours. I missed out on so much while my own children were growing up (even some of their own theatrical performances), but no one considers that teachers have a life outside of the school. I know I have made a difference in the lives of many people over the years, so why not pay me a livable wage? Many people still think of teaching as something women do to supplement their husbands’ incomes, but the vast majority of teachers I know are the primary source of income for their families. I really appreciated the chocolate and fast food the administration of our school provided the faculty last week for Teacher Appreciation Week, but I would have been much more thankful if I had been given a raise!

  • Eleanor says:

    The funding is terrible, and there are laws on how’s schools/districts can use their funds. I think I can claim $500 of my own spending, being married. Then you have parents who yell at you, who don’t punish their kids when you call and say they went ape$!t in the classroom. The benefits are a joke. I don’t qualify for Medicaid anymore, and getting insurance for my kids would be 1/4 of my salary, yet I would still have all the co-pays. I have gotten good at writing Donors Choose requests, but I feel like I shouldn’t have to. It’s no wonder that so many people choose to leave the field.

  • Teresa says:

    Thak you for this!

  • Cecilia says:

    I retired after 32 years of teaching in SPED due to a very minor heart procedure. My husband begged me to do so. I was 55 at the time. I had not had even a COL raise in 12 years. I miss it every single day and am now in perfect health. So now I sub almost everyday. It’s not the same but it fills a void. I would like to reinstate, but the loss of thousands of dollars in sub paypay and COL raises have me thinking twice. I’m an experienced educator in a critical area who could easily put in ten more years. Aren’t I worth it? Aren’ t my colleagues worth it? It– respect , a fair wage, lower stress, parents who care. Aren’t our children worth it?

  • AB says:

    Teachers are saints, I don’t know how they do it. Please keep in mind the school support staff as well, we work long days year round and make much less than teachers do (at least in my district). It takes a team to run a school.

  • Phyllis F. says:

    Most teachers are good. I would not call them saints. Like any job, there are a few bad apples. I could write a book about our experiences but I think I will look forward and not back. If you are a teacher and enjoy it…stay in the job….kids need good teachers. If you are a teacher and you don’t like your job….it would benefit all for you to find a job that would make you happy. Most people in the workplace do not get tons of appreciation. Do the lunch ladies, janitor and others that work at schools get appreciated?

  • Madilyn Davis says:

    I am not a teacher, but I’ve taught lots of kids in church and in girl and boy scouts. Parents were my problem in both. They can go to a game but not to a open house at the school. Our school district and the surrounding ones have the supply lists at our local walmart on what the kids need to bring in for themselves and the classroom. I have 2 special needs kids. Most of the teachers have been good but some not so much. My hubby and I have been complimented all the time for just showing up, sad comment on today’s parents.

  • Sallie says:

    Teachers have been “underpaid” for decades and yet people still go to school to be teachers….

  • Dee says:

    I agree no teacher started out saying that “hey I’ll become teacher and become filthy rich!x it’s a calling not a career. There are tons of jobs out there where people don’t get paid what they deserve. We all deal with that. I agree with whoever said it earlier. If you are a teacher and it’s still your passion stay in it the world needs you! If your heart isn’t in it anymore please consider something else. Kids are very perceptive and they can tell

  • So many times I have wondered if the reason leaders get away with not paying teachers what they deserve is because the best teachers don’t go into the field for the pay. We have always known (at least in my life time) that it is a low paying job. Thus the reason so few men go into the field, beginning back when a man’s duty was to provide for his family. We are dedicated to the children and the profession. We’d do it anyway. At least we used to say that. When I began teaching I was respected. Families and the political community trusted and appreciated me. I’m now retired, and with the constantly growing challenges I experienced in over 35 years in the classroom, as much as the profession meant to me, I couldn’t do it now. Teachers are abused in more ways than the average person can imagine. The future depends on a well-educated society, not for a few but for all, and it frightens me.

  • I am a retired teacher in Ontario Canada and my daughter is also a teacher as was her aunt and grandmother.
    Fortunately we are treated with respect and gratitude. I have never had to buy school supplies. I asked my daughter yesterday if she asks her students to purchase anything and she replied “just kleenex.” She has taught six years and made $72,000. CDN this year. Every year it goes up to a maximum òf about $94,000. Top salaries are in the $90,000.’s for teachers with ten years experience. Vice principals etc. are over $100,000. Salaries are negogiated every few years with the government and teacher unions. We all belong to the union. A retired teacher gets well over $4000. a month deposited in their account plus about $1400. a month government pension. I taught 39 yrs.but with no Master’s degree.
    My daughter was educated in N.Y. (hockey scholarship). When I went to visit her classroom and met her teacher I was amazed. The students left for Art with the Art teacher, music with the music teacher, gym with the gym teacher, librarian, Special Ed children removed etc. She had only 17 students enrolled in the class. Is this why your salaries are so low? I appreciate that these students are receiving a superb education with so many specialists teaching and more teachers are employed but is this the norm? In Ontario we teach all our subjects unless we trade off. ie. You teach my gym I’ll teach your music. We get 40 min. prep time during our French time. Also supervise outside during recesses and part of our lunch time.
    Just an aside my daughter tutors French for $40.00/hr.on her own time to immigrant children.
    Just wondering if what I saw in N.Y. was the norm.

  • I don’t ordinarily comment but I gotta tell thanks for
    the post on this one :D.

  • Natalia says:

    Wow thhat was odd. I just wrote an incredibly long comment but afte I clicked submit my comment didn’t appear.
    Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again. Anyways,
    just wanted to say wonderful blog!

Leave a Reply