When I ask my kids who their favorite super hero is, I get the usual responses: “Batman! Spiderman! Wonder Woman!” If the question were to be asked of me, though, as an adult, my answer would be simple: teachers.
For 7 hours a day, 5 days a week, the majority of the calendar year, we hand our children off to these highly educated, competent men and women and ask that they teach them all the skills they need to succeed in the modern world. They learn how to read, how to relate to society, and even how to do things like compete in athletics and have healthy debate. Not only do they closely monitor their academic growth, but they very often nurture their hearts and emotions, as well. They mediate arguments and celebrate birthdays. Sometimes they even feed hungry students from their own personal cupboards.
That is why it broke my heart to read of a recent study that came out from the Department of Education, showing that nearly all teachers in the United States, 94% of them, dip into their own pockets to pay for classroom supplies. The average cost out of pocket yearly was found to be around $480.
This might not sound like a lot of money for some, but taking into account that school teachers earn less than the average college graduate, are often not given cost of living raises (and, because of inflation, their income has actually gone down the last 15 years), and have to teach more children with less resources every year, it is a lot.
Randy Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, said, “There is no other job I know where the workers subsidize what should be a cost borne by an employer as a necessary ingredient of the job.”
It’s important to note that no teacher goes into education to become wealthy. With the multitudes of strikes and marches happening country-wide, North Carolina being one of the latest, educators are trying to gain the ears of people who matter to tell them that they need more: more help, and more support. With 35% less Americans studying to become teachers in recent years, we can’t afford not to listen.
Funneling money won’t, of course, solve all of education’s woes or demand automatic results, but there are studies that show a correlation between teacher pay and student achievement. So, if we really do care about our children and their future, it’s time to change. According to Fareed Zakaria, a columnist at the Washington Post, “…teaching is the one profession that makes all other professions possible.” We should show how much we value the position and the people who take it; we are all products of our education.
For our part, we’ll choose to intentionally support our educators however we can. Let’s be proactive about helping out in our kids’ classrooms, chaperone field trips, join the PTA, and volunteer at the food drive. Ask your teachers what supplies they are running low on throughout the year, or what would help their classroom function more efficiently. We guarantee they’ll be grateful; not just for the donations, but for a supportive parent behind them.
To our teachers: we love and value you. Thank you for being our superheroes!
Rachel is a wife and mother living in Raleigh, North Carolina. She’s a fan of good coffee, wearer of gray t-shirts, and is constantly starting books she will never finish. Her family is her joy, and she loves to engage with other moms and dads on matters of parenting. Her blog posts have also been featured on the Today Show Parenting Blog and Scary Mommy.