Teachers on Strike: Should They Get Paid More?

The teachers where I live are on strike AGAIN. I had a post before, a plea for teachers, and I’d like to add to that.

The teachers are on strike because they want a raise. They want a raise because cost of living is going up, but their salaries aren’t.School Bus

My mom is a teacher and two of my aunts, and guess what? They pay out of pocket for classroom materials. Did you know that? Teachers pay out of pocket for classroom stuff they need.

My mom teaches in an inner city school and the kids are very poor and can afford little. In fact, classroom attendance is always highest in the winter because the school is heated, and their homes often aren’t. And so my mom and aunts also pay out of pocket to give these kids pens, pencils, and notebooks. How could they teach the kids if the kids can’t even afford notebooks?

And it all comes out of teachers’ pockets.

“Modern cynics and skeptics…see no harm in paying those to whom they entrust the minds of their children a smaller wage than is paid to those to whom they entrust the care of their plumbing.” –John F. Kennedy

And so they’re asking for a raise. And all these politicians, who wouldn’t be where they are today without teachers, are refusing. It’s just not fair!

Everyone is educated through teachers! Teachers are the most important things in the world! When teachers aren’t treated fairly and don’t get paid fairly, it affects the classroom, it affects the children. If teachers want more money, give them more money. They deserve it.

Teachers got us all where we are today. You couldn’t read this if it wasn’t for a teacher. You couldn’t drive your car if it wasn’t for a teacher. I couldn’t swing a hammer if it wasn’t for my highschool Woods class teacher (a class, by the way, that has been cut and replaced with a computer class — a family member of mine recently needed me to show him how to put air in his tires. Seems like Shop/Woods classes shouldn’t be cut, we’re putting out a bunch of kids who can’t tell the difference between a car engine and a friggun’ flashlight battery).

Elementary School“Education is light, lack of it darkness.” –Russian proverb

Teachers need more leeway. Stop making them teach to tests…every year, so many standardized tests for kids… how about just letting them teach in the best way for the kids?? And teachers are so afraid now to say “bad job” or “bad student” because of how much parents and the media have gotten involved! They’re so afraid now to be negative in any way that they aren’t able to discipline kids right, teach them right, or help them understand the real world! We’re going to have a bunch of kids who get in the real world and are incapable of surviving because they don’t get participation ribbons and pats on the back with a thumbs up every time they tie their damn shoe.

And so the teachers are asking for a raise. They’re not asking for the world, they’re asking for a raise. They need to be able to live in the communities they teach in, and they need to be able to get the stuff they need for their classrooms. My mom brought home a text book that was about 40 years old and showed it to me. This is what they were teaching the kids from.

“Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is the most important.” –Bill GatesEnd School Zone sign

But we can’t update books or give raises because we’ve decided it’s better to be lots of wars and throw money at these wars. And now all these kids in the city are paying for it by not having supplies, up-to-date books, or teachers that are fairly paid. So they stop caring and going to school because no politician cares about them. So the crime rates go up. It all boils down to education, people.

Congress never has to worry about this kind of stuff. They have all the pens and notebooks they need. Their pay is guaranteed, they have the best health care in the world…  when police or firefighters talk about strike, things are resolved FAST. When pro athletes go on strike, things are resolved FAST.

But what about the teachers? It’s not an issue on the ballot, politicians don’t care.

But I support the children, I support the teachers. They want a fare wage. Give it to them.

“In a completely rational society, the best of us would be teachers and the rest of us would have to settle for something less.” –Lee Iacocca


Teachers on Strike: Should They Get Paid More? — 48 Comments

  1. I completely agree with you. Teachers get a bad rap sometimes because people think they only work 9 months out of the year. Which is somewhat true, but the months they are working they aren’t just working 40 hours a week. Many teachers I know work at home after the school-day is done. They grade papers, come up with new lesson plans and support their classrooms out of their own pocket. There aren’t many jobs where people spend their personal money to help fund their work.

    The one and only part I don’t like about teachers is that you can’t get rid of the bad ones. I’m also in a union and we have some people that should have been fired long ago but the union backs them. Then again maybe the teachers aren’t bad themselves but the parents are. Maybe I’ll write a post on that because this comment is getting kind of long lol.
    DebtsnTaxes recently posted..Burnt OutMy Profile

    • I think it’s true that it’s hard to get rid of bad ones, and there are some bad ones, but I know from hearing from my family members that are teachers, that the administration can do other things to make a teachers life hell until they quit.

      I agree that teachers dont’ work a full year, but they do pay out of pocket ALOT, they work at home ALOT, and something else too, during the day most office workers and blue collar workers can take a break or have down time. If we’re having a bad day we can close office doors or just weld in silence…but teachers don’t get that luxury. They have to be “on” every single day. They have to get up and present every single day. No down time. Tough stuff!

      Hey, if you want to guest post and talk more about it, I’d be happy to have you!

      • I had a friend who worked at a school system in IT support for over half a decade and he told me stories about how some teachers are vested in and can’t be fired even if they really suck at their job. I know most teachers aren’t in it for the money and that entry level teachers are wayyy underpaid, but we need a better system to get rid of teachers who are just not good for our children.
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        • teachers do pay out of pocket and they only make a frection of what a sports player gets they get 1,000,000 dollars or more when teachers do much more and only make a fraction of their pay.
          also teachers are teaching the next iphone 15 the next albert einstein they are teaching the next super star it is so unfair

    • I think that average dollar amount depends on what district you’re in (and what state). I know the 3 family members of mine who are teachers all make less than that, and one is a department head! But I don’t think anyone will disagree with smaller class sizes and more teachers!

      • I think if the “mean” salary was quoted, we would have a better idea of what the “average” teacher makes. When the media quotes the average salary, we all think, “Wow, how is that not enough?” Check out the “mean” salary and you will have a better idea. Plus, not to mention, how many of us would work for free AND pay for supplies needed for our jobs??

  2. I am a former teacher and everything you say is absolutely true. In fact, when people ask why I quit, I could just read from your blog in answer.
    Look at what athletes get paid for a few months a year, and consider their audience is but a tiny segment of the population e.g. baseball fans, football fans,etc while as you point out, a teacher impacts everyone.
    Not only do the players make money from the sport, look at what the media makes in advertising fees, how much the apparel makers get for vastly over-priced tshirts and hoodies and no one wants to see teachers make more than a barely above-decent salary.
    Thankyou and now I must sit back and calm down. lol.
    virginia recently posted..Fifty Shades of GrayMy Profile

    • Lol, that’s what happens to me too when I think about it and get going … I get all jacked up about it! You know, I hadn’t considered that not only do athletes’ strikes get solved quickly, but what you pointed out, they work only a few months of the year too. But people have no problem paying them bazillions of bucks! The system is just so messed up.

  3. Can I just give you a hug for this? I agree entirely! Teachers aren’t just babysitters. They are so important for our society to thrive, and they are way underpaid and not appreciated for the work that they do. In fact, can we just not call it “work?” They are nurturing, fostering, guiding, BUILDING the foundation of our entire future! And we treat them and pay them like second-class citizens. Thank you for sticking up for the selfless, loving, and talented individuals that are helping my children to find their potential and be the best they can be.
    Michelle recently posted..My Trip To The Mile High City — Part 1My Profile

  4. Good post! I know this can be a divisive issue, given the politics involved. The $76K figure is thrown around a lot, but what many don’t realize is that most teachers don’t make that amount. My Stepmother was a teacher for many years and I know she never made anything like that. Many also don’t realize the time teachers put in outside the classroom in terms of grading, lesson planning and the like. With that in mind, I say give them the money.
    Regardless of where anyone stands on this, the ones who “pay” in the end are the children. They’re left out of an education because the politicians can’t get their act straight.
    John S @ Frugal Rules recently posted..Yes, I Know…Another Personal Finance BlogMy Profile

    • Right on man, that’s exactly it. The politicians monkey around and try to get votes and finagle with taxes and money and bribes…and the only ones who are truly left out in the cold are the kids. It’s messed up. I agree about the $76K figure being wrong. I’m sure some teachers make that, but the 3 that are family members of mine do not. Not even close, and one of them is a dept. head even. I really think it depends on school district and counties and states.

    • Yeah, the $76k number is a joke. In my hometown, starting salary worked out to be about $100 per day spent in the classroom.

      As far as time teachers spend outside of the classroom, one of my professors in college put it this way: teaching is a full time job, then there’s also the time spent in the classroom!
      Edward Antrobus recently posted..Redefine Your SpendingMy Profile

  5. I agree completely with you on this. When I was a kid, teachers were valued, and greatly respected by parents and students alike. When did this all change? When did society become so hostile towards this great profession? People are going to be discouraged from becoming teachers the way things are going. Who is going to teach our children when there’s a shortage?

    I also agree that we’re overprotecting our children these days, as well as praising them for no good reason, which is something no one besides their parents will do when they grow up. Allowing kids to fail and fall down now and then, particularly when they are slacking off or being irresponsible, builds character. It’s a tough world out there and they need to be prepared for that struggle. Not everyone is going to mollycoddle them like mommy and daddy do, and I’m afraid these kids are going to have a heck of a time trying to cope in the ‘real world’ when they grow up. Raising them to be confident, accountable, responsible and capable of rolling with the punches is vital to a successful and happy future.

    Incidentally, we are having the same problems with teachers up here in Canada as you are further south. We’ve all gone mad :)
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    • Lol, well that’s all of North America then, gone crazy. I really couldn’t have said all that better myself. I see it all the time too where my girls go to school, and on their softball teams. These parents that demand their child get a better grade because “they tried really hard” or get a trophy becuase it would “encourage them.” It’s nuts. Sure it’s nice if everyone can win, but that’s not what really happens in the world. When kids are young is when to teach them about winning and losing, and the harder lessons like failing even though you tried your hardest or not getting accepted, etc. That’s when you teach them how to deal with that stuff and how to get back up, dust off, and get on with it. Man, it’s really messed up these days.

  6. What do you guys think of Michelle Rhee’s work in the DC school district? She instituted big bonuses for successful teachers, but if they wanted to accept them, they had to throw their tenure away. So if they wanted to keep their jobs forever and accept bonuses, they had to keep their performance up forever. Lazy teachers could ignore bonuses and do the bare minimum with their tenure, but there were real opportunities for those that wanted to excel. Seems like a win-win for the students and the teachers that were willing to really give it all they have.

    I think it’s interesting… though measuring performance is a sticky subject for another time. =)
    Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies recently posted..How We Bought A $50K Duplex – Part 2My Profile

  7. I agree that all the tests these days are rediculous. Especially because some students (me) don’t test very well. Especially standardized tests. I get cross-eyed looking at all those little bubbles. It’s the worst feeling in the world getting to the end of a 100 question test and finding out that there are three lines left on the bubble sheet!
    Edward Antrobus recently posted..Redefine Your SpendingMy Profile

    • I was never good at those tests either. I think they should be done away with entirely, but if they have to have them, couldn’t they make them much fewer and far between? It seems like my girls already are always taking these tests. When is there time to actually teach now??

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  9. Nice article on a “hot bed” issue. I wasn’t aware the teachers in Chicago had to pay for their own school supplies. This is just ridiculous. We all know inflation is a reality thanks to the Federal Reserve, so they should continue to get raises. I heard they were offered 16% raises over 4 years, but won’t accept that. Maybe my numbers are off, but that appears appropriate to me – any thoughts on why that isn’t enough?

    Either way, you are dead on in that it is the children that suffer. A solution needs to be presented in order to get these kids back into school.
    Jason Clayton | frugal habits recently posted..Pay off your Mortgage Early without Refinancing – 6 Easy StrategiesMy Profile

    • If I understand right sometimes when they’ve been offered raises in the past, it’s come with other deals that aren’t so great. So it’s not just a raise that they’re passing up, but other negative things that they just cant’ accept. The other thing too to remember is that a number of states have mishandled their teacher pension funds so badly that teachers actually will not be getting their retirement at all or it will be reduced by a lot (teachers don’t pay into social security, they pay into this pension fund). So a big raise is sorta a good idea for them since they may or may not be getting their pension!

      • Makes sense, thanks for the reply. I appreciate the article, because its hard to know the truth from the media these days. They will broadcast one aspect, yet ignore something else that factors into the decision making.

        The pension fund thing is a disaster, and makes sense on why they would reject what is coming for the City. Also makes me concerned for my uncle who is a retired teacher in Chicago area.
        Jason Clayton | frugal habits recently posted..Give your Family an Amazing Fall with these 8 (Frugal) ActivitiesMy Profile

        • I think some teachers who are already retired are okay with their pensions (I think, I’m not entirely sure, so maybe you want to ask him!), but it’s the teachers who will be retiring coming up that will find no money left.

  10. I love this post and I’m not a teacher. I agree with you-I knew a lot of my teachers bought school supplies/materials out of their pocket because they loved teaching and wanted to help spread knowledge. The only way they could do that was by buying their own supplies as the budget wasn’t able to afford it.
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    • It’s crazy really, I can’t think of too many other service-type jobs where you’re asked to pay out of pocket for supplies. It’s really too bad.

  11. My husband teaches fifth grade. This is his tenth year in this district. He has a master’s degree and is almost finished with his second master’s and makes $33K per year. The two months off in the summer are great and he has great benefits. Someday hopefully he will get a pension and can retire at a fairly early age. But he’ll have to move into a second career, because the pension probably won’t be enough to live on. It has it’s good and bad points. He didn’t go into it for the money. It would be fair if his wages were competitive with similar levels of education in the same field. Who would go to school for 6+ years to top out at $55K, which is where the pay scale stops here. All the haters need to really look at the numbers for teachers in poorer areas. No $76K here.
    Kim@Eyesonthedollar recently posted..Rental Property Series: Renovating Our Rental PropertyMy Profile

    • THanks for stopping by, Kim! Yeah I agree, teachers in poorer or even moderate areas aren’t coming in at 76K. Man, nearly TWO Masters degrees and still at 33K?? That’s crazy. Yeah, my mom has the teachers pension to look forward to, but I guess the state has been mishandling those funds enough that a lot of teachers who’ve been paying into that system wont’ get nearly what they shoudl out of it! I hope your husband gets what he deserves!

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  13. At first, when you said strike, I thought you were referring to the Chicago teacher’s strike, but then I realized that you said that teacher’s went on strike “again.” Thus, I’m not sure where you are located (Chicago teachers haven’t been on strike, prior to this year, for about a quarter century.

    Anyway, I know where you are coming from,and I do sense the unfairness in the situation you outlined. The one thing that always concerns me though is that in the midst of budgetary shortfalls, what do we do? How do we get the math to add up? Who will shoulder the sacrifice to get to black?
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    • Well man, I don’t know a lot about government workings and where all our tax money goes, but it seems to me that a lot gets wasted. We coudl start by lowering the paychecks of politicians since those are supposed to be civil duty-type jobs and now cash-cow jobs, we could stop bailing out companies that make dumb decisions (the government certainly hasn’t bailed me out in my bad decisions!)…. well, I don’t want to get too politican here, man. I just think that education is more important then most other things and if we put more money towards it, we’d see a dcrease in crime. Which I guess is where we’d get the money… smaller jails will be needed, not bigger. I dunno. Where do you think money should come from?

      • I love teachers but often can’t make the numbers work in the present economy. The decreased crime you suggested seems fine for the long term but may take years to counterbalance deficit-spending. I’m not trying to go political either. Cutting politicians salaries….hmmm, I somehow doubt that idea will have sufficient legs.
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  14. Thanks for writing this. Going through our own teachers’ strike made me realize how quick people are to judge jobs when they don’t really know the full story. It made me realize I have no clue what the day to day work life is like for other jobs like factory workers or care givers or service industry workers. So much more to the profession than people remember from their own experiences as a student.
    jolie recently posted..What I got for free (almost)My Profile

    • Completely agree! People are quick to judge when they don’t know the whole story, only a part of it. I guess we all do that sometimes, but it’s important to remember that there’s almost always more to the story!

  15. We have a different problem here. Teachers aren’t striking but they can’t find jobs. I know numerous unemployed teachers right now. Budgets are being cut so classes are made bigger so schools need less teachers. Also, because of the recession, baby boomers aren’t retiring and now there aren’t the job vacancies that grads were counting on. It seems things never run smooth for teachers.
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  17. Elementary and high school years are when kids are most impressionable. At least I was. I appreciate most of my teachers for all they have done. I know my chemistry teacher had to sell shoes alongside his students for extra cash. My English teacher (head teacher) worked at a bakery after school. They didn’t make enough to support their living. And I know that a happy worker is a productive worker. Happy workers don’t need to resort to second jobs to make ends meet…. what I am saying is that for the sake of the children, give the teachers what they need to be healthy and wonderful role models.

  18. I am with you 1000000%!

    Teachers deserve everything and more. If we paid teachers more, you know, the ones who hold our future in their hands, we’d have even better teachers and an even better future.

    The government needs to invest more in eduction, not less. It is ridiculous that we spend so much on defense and yet have to cut education.

    I started the Yakezie Writing Contest to support education and I will continue to support education forever!

    Financial Samurai recently posted..I’ve Seen The Future And It Looks So BrightMy Profile

    • That’s exactly what I’m talking about! Exactly, it’s ridiculous that we invest so much in defense but are pulling funding from education — education is literally our future!

      I remember the latest Yakezie writing contest, I even voted for one! It’s a great idea and really supports something very important.

  19. I agree… depending on the location only. In two major provinces in Canada, you start at about 46K, with a DB pension, vacation, sick days, etc. That is if you get a “contract” aka full time position. Depending on your teachable, that can be difficult. French and science? You’ll have a job within a week! The median wage here is something like 75 or 80K as well. Only about 15% of the population earns more than 75K. So, you won’t be a 1%’er, but the average teacher is better off than 85% of the population, especially when you compare it to the job outcomes of most arts degree recipients.
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  20. Excellent post. I’m a credentialed teacher who has been subbing for many years. I love teaching but have not been able to get a full-time position yet (tenure keeps younger teachers out unfortunately.) If I were to look at teaching from a financial point of view, I would quit the profession and choose something more lucrative. However, I love teaching and feel I make a difference. So I just can’t quit.

    People who know very little about the teaching profession have this idea that teachers make a lot of money, get a lot of vacation, and have it easy. That’s very untrue. Considering the amount of education it requires to become a teacher, the pay if paltry at best. Yes, teachers with many years of experience and so many extra units can eventually get paid in upwards of $76K annually, but this is only in a few districts and after so many years of teaching. And I don’t think it’s that much when you consider a person who’s been in a profession 20 years. Do you?
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  21. our son in law is a teacher and he makes no where near the 70 grand number and yes he pays for many things…his wife our daughter works in the office of a charter school and they make far less and she spends mroe then he does on helping childern who need everything from food to clothes…teachers are the foundation to every other profession…

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