Elizabeth Warren has stated many times that if she is president, her administration will work to increase the pay of teachers, paraprofessionals, school staff, and school leaders. She makes the claim that public schools are underfunded and that teachers are not treated as professionals in terms of pay.
However, Warren is likely operating under a bias as a former public school teacher when she is lobbying for higher salaries. She has firsthand knowledge of what teachers get paid, so one would think she would be the ideal person to speak on the issue. Yet, flaws run deeply through her proposal.
My administration will work with states to sustainably increase the pay of teachers, paraprofessionals, school staff, and school leaders, and ensure that they have the resources they need. And I'll strengthen their ability to organize and bargain collectively.
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) October 21, 2019
The fact of the matter is, teachers earn adequate salaries for the jobs they perform. The state with the lowest average teacher starting pay is Oklahoma, with a beginning salary of over $32,000. Other states’ entry-level averages stretch higher than $55,000. This is substantial enough particularly for those who teach common subjects that most adults know (while often failing to control a classroom).
Are Teachers Getting Better?
The quality of education teachers are providing is not stellar; Americans lag behind many other developed countries in test scores. This, however, was not always the case. In 1990, the United States ranked sixth in the world in education and health; by 2016, that figure fell to 27th.
Pay should not increase for maintaining the same education quality or declining quality of education. Teachers are selfishly campaigning for a higher salary and protesting in the streets instead of working their best to equip students with more knowledge in order to have a higher possibility of a raise. But even when they earn raises, it doesn’t result in students learning more.
The profession with the ideal work schedule as well as both summers and holidays off should not receive higher pay. Most people would love to get off of work at 3 or 4 p.m. each weekday. Most jobs only allow for an evening of relaxation each day, teachers get that and part of the afternoon as well. Despite needing to spend some time planning, educators do get summers off, a rarity in other American professions. They have the luxury of months off to relax, go on vacation, and spend time with their families. Many professions do not get holidays off either, but teachers do. They even get a couple of weeks off for Christmas break, a major benefit.
If any teacher should be complaining about pay, it is not one at public school, but a private school. In fact, private school teachers earn significantly less money than public school teachers do. Private school teachers have more freedom in the ways they teach and smaller class sizes, but nonetheless, they still get paid less.
The fact that private schools need to run a surplus to remain open, while public schools can continually borrow from the government, suggests that the market value for a teacher is actually even lower than what most public teachers make. Rather than deserving more, their position merits less on the open market; public school teacher salaries are already inflated.
Throughout the country, teachers often strike for better pay. At the end of the day, this is negatively affecting the students they should be teaching. Our educators want more money, but salaries aren’t the only form of compensation, and teachers get many other benefits. Senator Warren may be on their side as a former public school teacher, but she should realize the other luxuries that come with being a teacher at a public school.