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Appreciate teachers by paying them more

Berry Craig
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Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!

Teachers have one of the hardest jobs in the world. And they are leaving the profession in droves. There’s a myriad of reasons—lack of respect on the job; the culture wars and educational gag orders; the stress of being everything to our students—social worker, counselor, nurse and teacher; increasing workloads, testing and paperwork in lieu of teaching. But it is also pay.

Forty-three percent of all public school teachers make less than $60,000 a year, and hundreds of thousands of public school teachers have to work two or three jobs during the school year to make ends meet.

In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, write to your senators to sponsor S. 766, the Pay Teachers Act, and your representative to sponsor H.R. 882, the American Teacher Act.

Both bills would help public school teachers earn a wage that is at least $60,000 a year and increases over the course of their career.

The pandemic made things worse for educators. We have seen historic staffing shortages, disproportionately affecting schools serving students of color and students from low-income backgrounds. Research shows that, of all workers, public school teachers were the most likely to report higher levels of anxiety, stress and burnout during the pandemic. Today, 44 percent of public school teachers quit the profession within five years.

No wonder teacher satisfaction has gone from 56 percent in 2020 to 22 percent in 2022, according to polling done by Hart Research Associates.

Our nation’s teachers should be paid and treated like the national treasures they are. They educate and care for our next generation. Even with their need to take second jobs, they spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on supplies, snacks, books and other items for students. But they are neither treated nor paid commensurate with that role.

There is no better way to appreciate teachers than to pay them appropriately.

This year, in addition to giving your favorite teacher a mug or flowers, click here to urge your senators and representative to sponsor these bills that would raise teacher pay.

In unity,
Randi Weingarten
AFT President