In the largest federal investment in teacher salaries, Sen. Kamala Harris believes she has the solution to the teacher shortage (“Kamala Harris Wants to Boost Average Teacher’s Pay by $13,500,” Time, Mar. 26). The estimated $315 billion over ten years would mean the average teacher salary would jump by $13,500.
Teachers deserve higher salaries in light of the increasing demands placed on them. But surveys of teachers who leave the classroom for other careers have shown time and again that money was not the deciding factor by a long shot. In fact, many take jobs paying less than they were making before.
What Harris and others do not understand is that the unrelenting criticism teachers receive has undermined their morale. When coupled with concerns about their physical safety, it has led them to question their decision to make teaching a career. For example, combat pay for teachers willing to teach in the inner cities has been a failure. A handful of teachers may volunteer, but they rarely last more than a year or two.
Until teachers are accorded the respect they deserve and given the proper conditions to teach, there will continue to be an outflow of teachers and the reluctance of the best and the brightest college graduates to make teaching a lifetime career.
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