The Price of Knowledge
As the old adage goes, knowledge is priceless, but public school districts across the country seem to think differently. Educators in states all over America are on strike or are considering it for several reasons, one of which being inadequate pay. In Denver, Colorado, teacher walkouts were triggered after failure to negotiate with the school district after 14 months. In their demands, they asked for higher wages, but their efforts were ultimately futile. In Virginia, teachers are not yet protesting, but the thoughts of going on strike are definitely on their minds. Virginia is the 12th wealthiest state in the country, but teachers earn -on average- 51,000 dollars per year, much less than the national median salary of 59,000, and state funding for schools serving students from Kindergarten to 12th grade has declined 12 percent over recent years. These circumstances are not unique to only this state- it is occurring all over the nation. The teachers of America should be fully compensated for their services because they are educating our future generations and in doing so, are single-handedly shaping the future of our country.
Desperate Times Call For…
These recent demonstrations were ignited by the ones first held in Los Angeles, California, where 32,000 educators walked out of their classrooms for smaller class sizes. All over America, teachers deal with understaffed classrooms, with too many children for only one person to handle. This does not only make schools more strenuous for teachers: there are schools with 700 students assigned to one guidance counselor, making it harder for students to receive the proper care and attention they need. Furthermore, for many teachers, their job requires a master’s degree, but they still struggle to make a living. So many educators either cannot or can barely afford to have their own children, or to start a family of their own, and some may even work anywhere from three to six jobs to support themselves and their loved ones. The salary of teachers should be reflective of all the hard work they do in providing quality education for their students. In order to ensure that every student receives a quality education, classrooms cannot be overcrowded and public schools cannot be underfunded.
Our Children, The Future
The effect of terrible pay and cutbacks? Lower quality of education for students. In LA, 600,000 students were affected by the strike, and some did not have class for up to a week; in the long term, though, they will be much more negatively impacted by not having enough teachers in their classroom, or by not having a school nurse or counselor. The stress of school can sometimes be overbearing, and having someone to talk to makes all the difference. Teachers also protested for having rooms with broken air conditioners and heaters. It is extremely difficult to concentrate if you are freezing or sweating in your seat, especially if the lecture is difficult or boring. These problems are amplified in lower-income neighborhoods, where students often have to deal with poverty and the hardships that accompany it on top of school. America’s current students are its future, and them not being properly educated can have seriously detrimental effects.
Many of the teachers were successful in their attempts and were promised higher pay and smaller class sizes. In Los Angeles, elementary school classes now cannot have more than 27 students. Teachers additionally received a 6 percent raise and every school in LA is now guaranteed nursing services, a library, and academic counselors. After these measures were enacted, other states followed suit, but for the states that have not done so, there are various petitions online fighting for the same cause. This particular Action Network petition is for educators nationwide, but other petitions demand support for teachers in specific states, with this one purposely created for teachers in Arizona. Tell your professors and the staff at your school how much you appreciate the work they do, and even encourage them to join the movement by wearing red on a designated day.
Image Attribute: Pixabay