Teachers Rock

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Doctors, lawyers, Wall Street executives, engineers. These are among the highest paid people in America. Yes, these people have important jobs.. But those who have the most important job of all do not get paid in a way that reflects their value: Teachers.

Teachers have the ability to change lives and shape lives. Without teachers, there wouldn’t be people educated enough to become doctors, lawyers, or engineers.

As a graduating senior reflecting back on my own experiences in school, I would say it was my teachers that made it all worthwhile. They engaged me in conversation and debate. They encouraged me to challenge myself and think critically. They inspired me to think out of the box and follow my dreams.

Teachers make a sacrifice when they choose their profession.  There will be no bonuses or promotions and their rewards for excellence will only be verbal.  They will be among the worst paid of anyone with similar degrees and years of work experience. They know this and yet choose to shape future generations.

But recent strikes in West Virginia, Kentucky, Oklahoma, and Arizona show that teachers are getting a little fed up with salaries that sometimes put them near the poverty line. One teacher in West Virginia with a master’s degree plus 45 credits and 15 years of teaching experience, says she brings home $2,200 a month.  Plans to begin deducting health care premiums from that amount will leave her with $1,900 a month. This is shocking and should be a national embarrassment.

After the strikes in West Virginia, teachers gained a 5 percent pay raise, setting precedent, inspiring other states to take action. Despite the inadequacy of that increase, teachers saw that speaking up and fighting for what is right can still have an impact; West Virginia became the inspiration for teachers in other states to voice their opinion and right for better salaries.

In headlines from all over the country, we see teachers walking out and speaking out to stimulate change. In Arizona, teachers are asking for a 20 percent pay raise which is barely enough to make their salaries compropable to other states’.

The silver lining is that the people who chose to become teachers did so because they are passionate and want to make an impact on children’s lives and mold them into capable adults to lead the future, not for the money. The paychecks of teachers may pale in comparison to doctors and lawyers and engineers but their drive, heart, and passion exceeds all other professions.

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