The Key to Improving Society: Elevating the Status of Teachers

It’s disheartening to witness the disrespect that America gives to teachers on a yearly basis. If the average person were to look back on American history, they would realize that the main reason why this country began to flourish was because of the construction of public schools. Every day, politicians debate on how to “Make America Great”, but the answer is right in front of their faces. We must elevate the status of school teachers.


Looking At Other Countries


The Global Teacher Status Index released a survey study in 2018 which revealed the country in which teachers were most valued. This study includes 36 major countries, and in each country, teachers were asked an array of questions to determine their status compared to other countries. The country that ranked at the top of the list was China (100.0) and the country that ranked last was Brazil (1.0). The United States ranked a disappointing 39.7.


But how come the United States is ranked far below one of our international enemies? It all comes down to culture and tradition. Chinese culture is centered around Confucianism ideals, where the young must learn from the old and value their teachings. In modern times, because their society recognizes the value of education, Chinese instructors are adorned with utmost respect. It is stated in a short article by Antioch Missions that teachers are held at the same esteem as doctors, while European countries (and the United States) associate teaching with social work. Chinese teachers have also expressed that they feel extremely valued by both the government and the students when working in their profession. Can teachers in the United States say the same?


Is the Pen Mightier than the Sword?


While China values education, the United States values war. The basis in which the United States was found was through war; and while it was beneficial to use violence to achieve independence, this aggression progressed throughout the creation of this country. Today, the United States prioritizes military power and weapons rather than focusing on the growth of their education system. The Peter G. Peterson Foundation reveals that, as of 2019, the United States has spent more money on national defense than the next ten countries ranked combined-- our military spending was $732 billion. Statistica notes that there has been a steady increase in military spending since 2017, marking the period when President Donald Trump could control said budget.


As for education, spending depends on the state. In 2018, Arkansas lawmakers were scrutinized for their methods of public school fundings. According to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, from 2015-2017, Arkansas public school funding increased at a stagnant 1% rate per year. This was until 2018 when the budget increased 1.008% (and this was marked as an accomplishment). When lawmakers became aware of the widespread ridicule, they turned the blame on public schools since they have control on which programs the funding goes to; and, most of the time, teacher’s salaries do not increase with said funding. The House Education Committee chairman Rep. Bruce Cozart even commented that increasing public school funding would tempt the schools “to spend more money”.


Well… yeah. If the money is needed then it is going to be spent. And by revealing that the teacher’s pay has remained stagnant despite the small increase in fundings, it proves that schools cannot afford to reward their employees what they deserve.


The United States has no problem with constantly increasing military funding by a huge percentage every year, but ignores the needs of their public schools. And make no mistake, national defense should be a priority, but it’s about time that the U.S. realizes that there are more ways to raise their international credibility, and that’s by showing other programs some of that green love.


Until then, teachers will constantly have to scramble to make ends meet, while simultaneously providing the best education possible to their students.


Snowball Effect


Because of the lack of funding put into education, teachers are either being paid less or not at all. And because of the lack of adequate pay, the United States is experiencing a teacher shortage. The Center for American Progress noted a 39% decrease in teacher enrollment programs from 2008 to now. With more people realizing that becoming a teacher might not satisfy their financial needs, they are leaning towards other career paths where they know they will be more successful and respected.


If the United States would increase public school funding, we could see an increase in competition to become a teacher. The Center also stated that schools who offer higher pay experience better qualified teachers and a higher success rate compared to public schools that keep teacher’s salaries low.


The education crisis has a simple solution that refuses to be considered. More prioritization of public schools raises the confidence of teachers and aspiring educators, this rise in confidence improves the quality of education amongst students.



What Can We, the Average Student, Do to Help?


To put it blankly, teachers are stressed. Especially in a time where they are forced to teach both in person and online, we must show our teachers some empathy. Try to tell them as often as you can that you appreciate them. Try to make their jobs easier by listening in class and paying attention during lectures. Try to be as respectful as you can.


When one of my friends told me that she wanted to become a teacher after college graduation, the first thing that came to my mind was “God bless this soul”. Although becoming a teacher is a respectable career, the job title is not respected at all.


--

Bryana Langford

Cabot High School Senior


Citations:


Antioch Missions. (2019). Retrieved December 11, 2020, from http://am.amccsm.org/en/prayer/respect-for-teachers/


Duffin, E., & 2, J. (2020, June 02). U.S. military spending 2019. Retrieved December 11, 2020, from https://www.statista.com/statistics/272473/us-military-spending-from-2000-to-2012/


Field, H. (2018, November 26). Method of funding Arkansas schools scrutinized. Retrieved December 11, 2020, from https://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2018/nov/26/method-of-funding-schools-scrutinized-2/


Shapiro, S., & Partelow, L. (2018, September 20). Fixing Chronic Disinvestment in K-12 Schools. Retrieved December 11, 2020, from https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/education-k-12/reports/2018/09/20/457750/fixing-chronic-disinvestment-k-12-schools/


Strauss, V. (2018, November 15). Where in the World are Teachers Most Respected? Not in the U.S., a New Study Shows. Retrieved December 11, 2020, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/


The United States Spends More on Defense than the Next 10 Countries Combined. (2020, May 15). Retrieved December 11, 2020, from https://www.pgpf.org/blog/2020/05/the-united-states-spends-more-on-defense-than-the-next-10-countries-combined


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