According to a 2017 estimate made by the National Education Association, the United States has more than three million teachers. Public school teachers earn an average annual salary of 58, 353 dollars, and benefits for teachers are slim.
While this amount might seem fair and better compared to other professions, the average salary has dropped over the years. At the same time, the cost of living continues to rise. Also, things such as health care premiums, pensions, and other added expenses only dive deeper into a teacher’s budget.
Many teachers will acknowledge that they did not join the school system because they wanted to earn a lot of money. Lavish vacations are also not a motivator for teachers to enter the public school system. Nevertheless, these educators did not anticipate that they would work two to three jobs to support their livelihoods.
Besides, many of them teach classes of more than 35 students. They also often forgo medical procedures and use that time to nature their students. As a result, many teachers are leaving the profession in a bid to pursue more lucrative careers.
Teacher attrition has increased over the last 25 years, primarily in states with low pay such as New Mexico, Arizona, and Louisiana. Others are conducting protests to bring attention to their plights. Additionally, many young people no longer consider teaching to be a profession of choice.
Enrollment in teacher preparation programs continuously experiences a declining trend. This has been the case in 45 states. Therefore, it is becoming increasingly challenging to recruit educators for public schools.
The ultimate truth is that teachers are underpaid throughout the country. In some states, the average pay per teacher is as low as 39, 617 dollars. When accounting for nonwage benefits, comparable workers are paid significantly more than the public school teachers.
On average, they earn about 11 percent less. One can raise the argument that educators are public employees. Thus some benefits for teachers include insurance benefits such as vision, medical, and dental for themselves and their families.
Besides, public teachers receive a pension. However, are these benefits for teachers generous enough to make up for the low salary pay? Here are some facts that determine otherwise.
Public school teachers are guaranteed a life payout once they retire. Typically, the contributions are made by the employee and the employer. The state then invests in funding the pensions.
Traditionally, this pension was a generous amount for teachers that were in service for many years. However, today, the state is underfunded with regards to the pension plan. To reform this predicament, the pension costs have been shifted to the individual.
Other states offer contribution plans that do not guarantee payouts. Therefore, the pension responsibility is more or less becoming a burden for the teachers.
On average, public school teachers now contribute about 38 percent of health care premiums. Considering the significant student debt in the country and the cost of health care, this is increasingly becoming a burden for many educators.
According to Bellwether, more than one million public school educators are not covered by Social Security. Besides, half of them do not qualify for a minimal pension benefit. Also, only about one in 5 teachers remain in the profession long enough to earn a retirement benefit.
Many people assume that teachers are liable for the three months off during summer. On the contrary, students get the whole summer off. Teachers, on the other hand, take the time to work or take classes that renew their certificates or advance their careers.
An effective strategy that can increase recruitment as well as retain public school educators is providing financial incentives. Many educational institutions struggle to recruit and retain educators because of insufficient pay.
Therefore, many states should consider providing more benefits for teachers by offering financial incentive programs. There are three ways that this can be made possible. They include salary requirements, performance pay, and diversified pay.
To increase the recruitment of teachers, the state can initiate a minimum salary requirement. This will, in turn, reduce teacher turnover. It will also equalize the wage gap that exists between different teachers in different states.
Targeted incentive programs can also attract educators, especially in subject areas that experience shortages. On the other hand, diversified pay can be realized by providing alternate diversified payment such as compensation for previous work experience.
Lastly, excellent teachers should be recognized for their work. Performance incentives will also encourage potential teachers to join the recruitment of educators. Besides, pay for performance will attract qualified educators in the school system.