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Challenges in Education

From Oncologists to Neurosurgeons, Biophysicists to Geneticists, professionals of all skills sets and intellectual levels have one thing in common: they acquired their knowledge from spending time in classrooms. Where would we be without the Edwin Hubbles or Alexander Graham Bells of the world? And yet year after year, the educators who have had such a lasting impact on these brilliant individuals, inspiring them to follow their passions, continue to go unnoticed.

Not only are teachers hardly acknowledged, but educators also battle with:

  • High Classroom Sizes
  • Student Poverty Levels
  • Underlying Family Issues
  • Bullying in School
  • A Lack of Parent Involvement
  • Poor Student Health

 

Why Passionate Educators Teach

While these are all issues that cannot go unaddressed, many teachers joined this profession with somewhat of an understanding of these problems. Educators know the potential impact they could have on their students and this is what makes the job so rewarding. Despite the wide variety of challenges they face in the classroom, 68% of teachers said they would recommend the profession to someone else in a survey conducted by the Alliance for Excellent Education.

The solutions to the problems they face are not something that can be accomplished overnight, but instead a challenge each individual can work towards improving one day at a time with the help of policy makers.

"Teachers, I believe, are the most responsible and important members of society because their professional efforts affect the fate of the earth," said internationally-known Physicist, author and peace advocate Helen Caldicott.

With so many passionate individuals choosing a career path they know will be difficult but rewarding, the true question is why their determination is not better acknowledged and rewarded. Educators’ salaries in America fall behind that of professions requiring a similar level of schooling.

According to an article published by the Huffington Post, nationally-renowned American Educator Dr. Steven Paine believes our country’s number one issue within our education system is the lack of respect for teachers. He came to this conclusion after studying the world’s highest achievers – Finland, Singapore and Ontario, Canada.

“The major difference between those systems and the one in the U.S. had to do with how teachers are valued, trained and compensated,” Paine said.

Dr. Paine is not the only one who recognizes this issue. According to a report from the Alliance for Excellent Education, 52% of Americans think teachers are under paid and appreciated.

 

With a starting salary between $30,000 and $35,000 varying by state, teachers are working for a very modest paycheck. To make matters worse, teachers have reported spending an average of $485 on resources for their classrooms, and educators teaching in low income areas spend roughly 40% more on supplies.

Recognition and appreciation goes a long way in the workforce. Many employees would sacrifice a large paycheck to feel valued for what they do, but an extensive workplace- engagement survey conducted by Gallup Research concluded grade school teachers rated their work recognition lower than any other employees polled. Only 29% of teachers said they received recognition for their hard work within the past seven days even though recognition has been proven to promote teacher retention and result in higher satisfaction for parents and students.

How You Can Create Change

While fixing the American education system so teachers receive the appreciation and compensation they deserve will be a long process, there are efforts that can be done immediately to help:

1. Donate via DonorsChoose.org

Donors Choose says their mission is to “make it easy for anyone to help a classroom in need, moving us closer to a nation where students in every community have the tools and experiences they need for a great education.” Donors can identify a specific region, subject etc. in which they would like to contribute. Donations will be used towards classroom supplies, educational field trips and more.

2. Write your Congressman

Thoughts and opinions are valuable, but without being heard they cannot create change. Make your stance known on important issues like education by writing your representative. It’s easier than ever today as you can write a letter, email or even text your Congressman. Learn how here.

 

3. Give a Token of Appreciation

A small token of your appreciation will have a bigger impact than you could imagine. Many teachers spend a full year with their students and only receive tokens of gratitude during Teacher Appreciation Week. Surprise a teacher with a personalized gift to brighten up their desk or teacher stamp to make grading easier.

4. Make Education a Priority

As a parent of a student, education should be a priority. By investing time and effort into your children’s education, you will not only positively impact their life but also the lives of many others. Be available when they have homework-related questions, notice when they are struggling in particular subjects and reward their accomplishments. Teachers will directly benefit from the time and effort you invest in your child’s education.

5. Encourage Kindness

Whether you’re a parent or student, spreading compassion is one of the most important things we can do in today’s world. Bullying in one regard or another is one of the main causes for student’s lack of self-esteem and as a direct result, failure in their studies. Teaching children to be kind to one another will benefit the students themselves, educators, parents and society as a whole.

 

Invest in America’s Future

With education and our teachers at the core of our country, it’s crucial to highlight the flaws within the system and work together towards a more prosperous path. The 2014 report from the Alliance for Excellent Education found roughly half a million of the United States’ teachers either move or leave the profession each year. While this is detrimental to the education of future generations, it also has an economic impact as it costs the country up to $2.2 billion annually. Our investment into the American education system and its educators is a vital commitment for the future of our nation.