What It Means To Be A Teacher In America


On this Teacher Appreciation Week, I want to look at what it means to be a Teacher in our current country. Teacher’s serve as the backbone of our youth, and help fuel the minds of millions that will go onto incredible things, but why is it that they’re treated so unfairly?
Teacher salaries have been on the decline for a while now, in states like Michigan, we saw a -17% decrease in pay just from 2013. It’s not a coincidence that we’ve seen a huge loss of teachers in that time too. A study by thinkimpact.com found that 30% of new teachers quit within the first 5 years, with half of them listing low wages as the main reason for quitting. The Pandemic also played a huge role in the teacher shortage, with states like Texas claiming they lost up to 43,000 teachers just in 2020-2021. When no incentive exists for this career, it’s a lot harder to fill up the spots, and that’s the problem we’re seeing.
Being a teacher has become a lot less appealing to younger people in recent years for many reasons. One of the biggest is the massive workload that takes the joy out of teaching. An IEU survey found that 49% of teachers felt stressed or overwhelmed either regularly or all of the time. And the worst part of this is that teachers can’t even take mental health days because there is also a substitute teacher shortage. Edweek Research Center found that in 2019-2020, U.S. Schools could only cover 54% of teacher absences with substitute teachers. And that was before the pandemic. As a way to make up for teacher shortage, one school in Arizona has packed 134 students and 4 teachers into one classroom. When you look at figures like this, it’s no wonder less and less people look so favorably on the occupation. Teaching is a dying industry and it’s because of all the pressure we put on our teachers while still not paying them nearly enough.
So maybe on this Teacher Appreciation Week, let’s take a moment to realize all of the incredibly important things that teachers do for their students. And maybe instead of just some crappy knick knack or thank you note, get out and vote or campaign for better infrastructures for teachers that will actually help solve this problem so we can keep the teachers that we love.