The education system needs an upgrade, starting with increasing teachers’ salary


Charles Edward Miller/via

Milwaukee public school teachers, parents, students and supporters staged a large picket line outside MPS administration building on Vliet Street on Milwaukee’s west side.

Recently, I have read a story about a North Carolina middle school teacher being fired for reasons involving personal choices and activities, such as having a second job. The termination was determined by the school board and counties that found the teacher’s activities inappropriate or against their district’s code of conduct.

I can understand why some school boards would fire teachers if their second job was directly breaking the code of conduct. But if codes of conduct are not being broken, I feel frustrated and angry for those being dismissed.

What teachers do in their personal lives should not be grounds for dismissal, but what truly frustrates me was the fact that this teacher was fired because her second job was not appropriate as teachers should be “role models who are responsible for their public conduct even when they are not performing their job duties,” according to the school officials. This teacher had to get a second job, and once it was leaked to the school board, was fired. This whole issue comes down to the fact that we do not pay our teachers enough money. The fact that many of them must go out and get a second job tells us that we and the system have failed.

Teachers are a significant component in the education system. These are the people educating the next generations. They are the ones teaching life lessons, giving advice and providing support and guidance during tough times, the college admissions process, or anytime a student needs help. If we do not pay teachers enough, they cannot fully invest themselves in teaching and supporting students. And when they cannot do that, we get kids and students who lack the right education and support to either pass their classes and exams, find their career path or continue their education. These kids will most likely fail state tests and admissions processes because they are not receiving the help they deserve from underpaid teachers.

It is a continuous cycle of failure. Failure to pay our teachers something good enough, the failure to be able to teach and support the students and the failure of the system to do anything about this cycle. If we continue to do nothing about the multitude of issues surrounding the education system, we will doom future generations and their education.

I am not the only one who believes that teachers should be paid more. The PDK Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools in 2018 found that two-thirds of Americans said that teachers were underpaid. The poll also found that many parents did not want their kids to become teachers because they were not paid a decent salary. If we are not paying teachers enough, we may end up with a shortage of teachers because of this lack of salary and job security.

Unfortunately, we already have a shortage of teachers in public schools. For the 2017 to 2018 years, Arizona, Colorado, Kentucky, West Virginia and Virginia were states that had a lack of various types of teachers and administrative positions, according to the Teacher Shortage Areas Nationwide Listing from the Department of Education. Consequently, these states are also the ones who have seen teacher strikes over the past year for better public school funding and teachers’ salary. But they should not be the only states striking over lack of teachers and funding. There were multiple other states, both northern and southern, who lacked teachers in all areas, presumably because of this funding issue. 

It is a continuous cycle of failure. Failure to pay our teachers something good enough, the failure to be able to teach and support the students, and the failure of the system to do anything about this cycle.

— Jen Rodriguez

We will fail future generations if we do not put money into our schools and the teachers. Nowadays, teachers are scrounging for money to supply their classrooms with the necessities. And yet, Betsy DeVos thinks that we can supply classrooms with guns. Yes, let us put our money towards guns but not new textbooks, writing utensils and notebooks for classrooms. The issues surrounding guns and schools is massive, but the mere idea that people are okay with spending money on guns but not school supplies and teachers pay is ridiculous.

Despite this major issue, gun laws and gun protection is not part of the educational system, nor should it ever have to be. We cannot ignore this specific issue, but when we focus on schools, it cannot be the only thing we attempt to fix. There are many holes within the education system which need to be addressed and fixed, but I believe that fixing the wages of teachers and funding their classrooms is one of the first steps to stopping this cycle of failure which we are sustaining.