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Teachers’ low salary complaints unfounded

It seems logical that people believe things only if the evidence tells them so. But in my experience, this is not the case. People mostly only believe what they hear on TV from wackos like Dr. Oz, old wives’ tales from their moms or just talk amongst their friends. That’s fine. People don’t have the time to look at every single thing they hear to make sure it’s true. Other times, it can create problems.

Take teachers’ salaries, for instance. It’s pretty much understood that teachers are underpaid and educate our children for little money. Or is it?

To answer the question, let’s understand what the word “underpaid” means. If by it, a teacher means, “I wish I made more money,” then we are all underpaid, including you, me, your engineering professor and Warren Buffett. It’s no secret that we all would like more money. Some occupations, like teaching, can disguise this by saying they are “underpaid” instead.

Let’s also take a look at the statistics. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the average salary of a teacher, kindergarten through secondary school, at a range of $47,100 to $51,180. According to a report by John Stossel, titled “MYTH: Teachers Are Underpaid,” the average American’s wage is $7,000 less than this.

Think about the benefits of being a teacher. The job comes with benefits such as health insurance and a hefty retirement, two things not taken into account most of the time. Teachers also get summers off. This means they only work 10 months out of the year with some holidays still sprinkled in. In fact, Stossel’s report found that teachers get paid more by the hour than chemists, physical therapists and psychologists.

There are a lot of unseen benefits to the job. Think back to when you were in school. How many times did you have a substitute? Probably quite a few. Teaching is a very flexible job and allows a person to miss a lot of days without missing out. My mother, in fact, missed a whole year of teaching due to a pregnancy and was able to return to her job immediately.

Some of you may be saying that this is still too low. Why can’t we pay those who educate our future even more? Well, if you ask any teacher, he or she will tell you the same thing: “I didn’t get in it for the money.”

Teachers may think that this helps their cries for higher wages, but it actually hurts it. Jobs that people like tend to not pay well because people are so willing to do them. Teaching is no exception. The satisfaction of helping a child learn a new concept is one that is very rare in an occupation today. I would much rather do that than sit in a cubicle all day and listen to a boss who doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

Lastly, I just want to say that I hold nothing against teachers. I’ve had many great teachers in my life, and some may have deserved more than they were paid. These nice thoughts, however, don’t change the fact that it is clear that teachers are pretty well-off in terms of salary.

Michael Lauck is a junior economics major from Houston.

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