Updated: Sep 23, 2021
A great teacher has the ability to change student lives. Many adults who are successful in their careers credit a certain teacher or professor who inspired them to achieve what they have today. It is undeniable that with the right support and guidance, teachers can change the trajectory of student lives and leave impressions that last a lifetime.
In the aftermath of the pandemic, the teacher-student relationship is going to be more important than ever. Teachers will be able to understand what each student needs when it comes to learning styles and environments. Every student is different, and teachers will be combating pandemic-related learning loss for years to come. But, teachers have been fighting to close the learning gap for years, way before the pandemic swept across our globe. They are an integral part of our society and have the power to make a difference. In order to curb the learning loss that has stemmed from COVID-19, teachers need support, funding and higher wages. As a society, we need to prioritize teacher needs because in turn, we will be helping students reach their full potential.
Teachers are an integral part of our society and have the power to make a difference.
Teachers and Unfair Pay
According to the nonprofit Economic Policy Institute, Teachers earn 11.1% less than other workers with comparable education and experience. In a 2020 study on teacher compensation, Stanford University found that entry salaries for teachers in 2016, in real dollars, had not changed since 2000, and average salaries for all teachers actually declined slightly over that time period. And, as the cost of living skyrocketed, especially in large cities, teachers’ pay didn’t keep up. Unfortunately with these statistics, too many teachers cannot afford to live in the same cities where they work.
Women are overrepresented in the lowest-paying jobs, and even women in high-paying professions are paid less than their male counterparts.
The value society places on us can be found in the salaries we receive. Sexism that undervalues work done mostly by women has always dragged down the education career path. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, women are
overrepresented in the lowest-paying jobs, and even women in high-paying professions are paid less than their male counterparts. The percentage of public school teachers who are women increased from 75% in 2000 to 77% in 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. As a career choice that has traditionally labeled “women’s work,” teaching has always been underpaid. It is time to end this battle with unfair compensation and pay teachers the salaries they deserve.
The pandemic sparked the need for government assistant across the board. The U.S. government has created the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act, which is a $2.2 trillion economic stimulus bill that has been distributed to every school district in the country as they move forward to defeat learning loss. There are several specific funding allocations under the CARES Act. They are:
· Governor's Emergency Education Relief (GEER)
· Higher Education Emergency Relief (HEER)
· The Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSA)
· The American Rescue Plan Act (ARP)
While teachers may be able to use these funding options to benefit their classrooms and students, it is ultimately up to each school district to decide how the money is used. If we want this funding to have a real impact on students, we need to allow teachers to have some freedom to make decisions. If used correctly, the CARES Act could turn so many negatives into positives.
Changes from State to State
Some states are already making strides and using government funding in creative ways to support teachers in the fight against learning loss. Remote learning is still a priority, but schools are also focusing on other learning strategies now that the pandemic is coming to a halt.
New York is continuing to strengthen its remote learning system and will be conducting remote sessions for approximately 177,700 students this summer. The fact is, we may need to utilize remote learning more as time goes on. For some students, remote learning is the only option they have. This summer, educators need strategize and make remote learning as effective as possible. But in this case, it’s not just up to educators – it is up to parents as well. Parents need to understand the power of a stable learning environment at home so this can become a higher priority in the future.
Colorado’s second-largest school system, Jeffco Public Schools, recently announced a full-time remote learning program across grade levels. Students would regularly interact with teachers, have mostly live instruction, and stay connected to their neighborhood schools, meeting with a staff member at least once a week.
Fresno Pacific University in California has created a course called “Achievement Gap: Teacher’s Role” which is made especially for teachers to learn about strategies to help academically at-risk students. The course focuses on how teachers can play a vital role in helping those students who are falling short of standards and achievements through changes in lesson planning, teaching, assessment practices, and feedback. With a class like this, teachers will have the ability to explore and uncover new ways to bring depth to the classroom.
One of the greatest expressions of love that a society can give its children is educating those children with the resources they need.
Vice President Kamala Harris campaigned with a strong K-12 education proposal, and now that she has won, her plan can be put into action. Harris is proposing that the federal government spends $315 billion to increase teacher salaries over the next 10 years. Through a combination of direct federal spending and matching funds from states, her goal is to give the average US teacher a $13,500 pay increase during her first term.
“We are a nation and a society that pretends to care about education. But not so much the education of other people’s children. We gotta deal with that,” Harris said in during her campaign in March 2019, while previewing her plan. “You can judge a society by the way it treats its children. And one of the greatest expressions of love that a society can give its children is educating those children with the resources they need. Teachers are our greatest resource in that endeavor.”
With teachers at the forefront of our learning environments, it is vital to give them what they need to be successful. Our future rests on their shoulders – our students need them to move past this difficult time and discover better ways to learn. While learning loss continues to be a relevant problem, teacher loss is an issue as well, and we need to combat it together. With leadership changes in the United States and individual states making efforts to support their teachers, our country is on the right path.