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Teachers are not your servants

Teachers+are+not+your+servants
Tyler Vu

When I was in elementary school, I wanted to become a teacher when I grew up. I liked standing in front of people and explaining my favorite interests. However, as I grew up, I realized that being a teacher is about much more than just teaching; teachers are also expected to discipline students and accommodate their every possible need. By the time I reached high school, I gave up on this career aspiration after hearing from teachers about the reality of their job. I realized that I was unable to handle the responsibilities that the career entails.

For similar reasons, a lot of teachers are leaving their educational careers behind. The list of reasons is exhaustive: Their wages are insufficient and do not account for inflation; they can be forced into potentially dangerous situations; they work long hours outside of school and they struggle with intense stress as a result of student violence and the pandemic. As a result, the teacher shortage is now a nationwide problem, forcing schools to fill openings with substitute teachers who have less expertise or no college degree. The dramatic decrease in the number of teachers puts unqualified educators into the classroom and leaves students to struggle with the curriculum as a result. In order to prevent teachers from leaving, action must be taken.

First, their salaries must be increased. Back in high school, several teachers complained about a lower quality of life due to low wages. While they spoke in sarcastic tones, their claims proved to be true according to the data. In most states, teachers are making less than those with a master’s degree in most states as well as less than the average full-time worker. Given the fact that teachers often work past school hours and that they are not paid during breaks, their current salaries cannot be considered sufficient. Teachers not only struggle financially, but they also feel as if their profession is disrespected. By offering a salary that compensates for the physical and mental tolls that teachers face everyday and appreciating the worth of their service, we can help lower teacher turnover and retain high-quality educators.

Second, we need to look into better ways to protect them. Many teachers experience high levels of stress from confronting disrespectful students and parents. In recent years—especially during the pandemic—more students were reportedly struggling with mental health issues, which led to an increase in school violence against educational professionals; however, little is done by administrators to protect them from physical and mental harm. Although several laws, such as the Teacher Authority Law, exist to protect teachers and to instill the authority to establish and implement punitive measures, a lot of teachers claim to feel that the code of conduct is not always observed. Furthermore, teachers are limited in what they can say in the classroom, which can lead to lawsuits, and their tenures are oftentimes rejected. They do not even have the right to speak about the educational curriculum yet they are at risk of losing their job based on evaluations and test grades. Without protection and the ability to enforce strong punitive measures, we risk more teachers leaving the field. State governments should acknowledge teachers as respectable professionals and celebrate their hard work. Schools should also implement stricter rules to protect teachers and provide them with the needed mental support and training to overcome such crises.

Finally, the government needs to rework the system in order to protect and support teachers. States can upgrade the certification process to better equip teachers with the tools necessary to provide high-quality education. The increased rigor of the programs can prepare teachers in training with the strong pedagogical skills necessary to run the classroom. Teachers should be granted protection of their position, guaranteed freedom of speech and allowed the autonomy to design the teaching curriculum. In the event that a teacher encounters violence in the classroom, they should be given legal protection and the ability to take legal action against their offender. They should also be considered government workers and receive welfare benefits for their service in public institutions. Lastly, there should be increased staffing to alleviate the burden of teachers and ensure students are receiving the support they need.

Teacher shortages not only affect other teachers and school administrators but also students, as they are unable to receive quality education, leading to academic failure. Teachers play an important role in our society; they rear the future generations that will lead society in the coming decades. Although it may be difficult to implement such changes immediately, taking immediate action to improve the treatment of educators by creating safer classroom environments and properly compensating them for their hard work is crucial.

 

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About the Contributor
Tyler Vu, Graphic Designer
Tyler Vu (he/him) is a second-year majoring in mechanical and aerospace engineering. He spends his free time driving around Cleveland to find cool places to eat, going to the gym, losing to the elderly in pickleball or bothering his friends.

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