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Are Teachers Really Underpaid?

Stagnant and low wages have been a major concern for teachers for years.

Teachers impact our children in immeasurable ways and play an integral role in molding them into future leaders. This is a great responsibility, so naturally we expect a lot from them.

However, in recent years, teachers have abandoned the profession in record numbers. Is it because we are expecting too much and giving too little in return?

Teachers are frustrated

Teachers frequently voice their frustrations about our education system. These frustrations extend far beyond their salaries, but compensation has been a consistent factor contributing to teacher dissatisfaction. Most teachers enter the profession to shape young minds and don’t expect to take home six figures. Similarly, they likely didn’t anticipate struggling to make ends meet or having to spend an average of $479 out of their own pocket to stock their classrooms with supplies each year.

What are teachers earning nowadays?

Compensation is influenced by various factors including experience, education, specialty, location and more. Considering these factors, it’s expected for compensation numbers to be all over the map.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average income of a public-school teacher was $58,950 in 2016-17. New York teachers earned the most at an average of $79,637. The average rent for a two-bedroom apartment in NYC is $3,895; that’s 58.7% of that average income. On the contrary, teachers in South Dakota earned the least at an average of $42,668 annually.

These may seem like reasonable numbers, especially when we compare it to the current median household income of $59,055. However, it is important to acknowledge that teachers are typically only compensated for the time they spend teaching while any preparation, grading, or meetings conducted outside classroom hours is unpaid. Budget cuts and teacher layoffs have resulted in larger classes, and in some cases, more responsibilities with no raise.


Are teachers really underpaid? Two-thirds of Americans say yes. These 13 teachers who share their stories of life on a teacher’s salary say yes.

It is far more profound than just a number on a paystub. Considering we place 100% of our trust in teachers to take care of our children while we’re working, and the additional time worked after class is over, it comes as no surprise why they have become more vocal about their pay grade recently.

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