Monday, August 24, 2009

A way to better TEACHER K-12 PAY

Im going to head down a path with a NON- MUSIC post, but this one also affects music educators.

I researched and wrote this in the late winter/spring of 2008. My figures are from 2004 and 2006 but can easily be modified to 2008 stats on salaries. Now these are averages for the nation, but still think of this idea in all states.

The United States is the most powerful country in the world, yet when you compare its education system to those of Europe we are just not up to the standards. Education is the driving force that has built America, without it our country would not have grown into the great country it is today. However, we all know that the education system in this country is under performing.

Although we have lowering drop-out rates, the NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND ACT and standardized tests to help improve our system, we need to fully improve the quality of education in this country for all levels for the K-12 public schools. The education system in Europe is built around quality of its core education and teachers. They achieve this and have an average high school graduate age of 16 years old (in most European countries). In recent years we have had required standardized tests for elementary and middle schools put into effect. These measures seem to not be as effective as we thought they would be. These tests are showing some promising increases in our education system, but it is not improving our education system.
The core of our education system starts with teachers, and the quality of which they teach.

Teachers are some of the most educated people in the country, they are required to obtain graduate degrees to keep their certification, and in a lot of cases they pay for these required classes with their own money. They work 10 hours days with all the planning that they do, and they still do extra work at home. This country has lowered its appreciation for teachers, and needs to get back on track. We cannot improve the quality of education without having the best teachers.
Many teachers that enter the field end up leaving and going into fields outside of teaching just to make a better living. Being a teacher should be one of the best paid careers in the country. The teachers that usually leave the teaching field are some of the best teachers in the field. To keep these teachers in our schools and motivate the quality of current teachers, we need a drastic display of appreciation for our country’s teachers.

To improve the quality of teachers I suggest we improve their pay, by doing so will motivate them, keep more teachers, and lower the teacher turnover rate in this country. I suggest that we show our country’s greatness and appreciation for teachers by giving them a federal income tax exemption. So then teachers will pay no federal income tax, which will increase their annual income by 25%, and thus will help them with affording better housing and transportation.

Since the average teacher salary for 2006 was $44,400 with taxes they only take home $33,300 per year after taxes. There were 3.8 million jobs for teachers in 2004, and with my estimates for 2006 it cost $42,180,000,000 in taxes that were collected from teachers in 2004. Teachers overall compensation from the government is $168,720,000,000. $42 billion is only 1.6% cut from our federal tax revenue of $2.54 trillion dollars annually.

I have done research that shows we can cut billions from the department of defense, the office of personnel management, and raise the federal income tax by (.05%) a percent, and we would make up all the money to tax exempt the teachers.
This plan would put better quality teachers into our schools, and keep them teaching. If this country does not take some drastic steps towards the educations system (especially towards the k-12 levels) the education in this country will worsen.

Thank you for reading...


Christopher Lund said...

This is an interesting idea, but not one that I can see working in reality. As far as I know, there are currently no tax-exempt jobs... obviously, some jobs pay more than others because somebody values them more, but declaring one specific profession to be exempt from income tax seems self-congratulatory. And who would qualify? I assume full-time primary and secondary teachers at public schools would qualify for this tax-exempt status, but who else? College professors? Substitutes? School administration? Private school teachers? School support staff? Tutors? There are a lot of people involved with education on a professional level.

This sort of legislation would never pass. I truly believe it is the schools, not the teachers, that need to be fixed... and paying the teachers more does nothing to fix that. Public school teachers (at least in the areas i've lived) make a comfortable salary... they may wish it was higher, but they get by just fine if they are smart with their money. They make more than a lot of folks out there, and I know lots of school teachers who have nice houses, new cars, swimming pools, etc. I also like how the argument in this blog goes from "our education system is worse than Europe" to "pay teachers more money"... from what I know, teachers in Europe make comparable salaries with American teachers. And let's not forget that (again, in my experience) school teachers do get the summer off. They may feel that this is necessary for their mental health (and I would tend to agree), but it would be ludicrous to discuss teacher salaries without considering that most get paid for nothing 25% of the year.

While I applaud teachers for working the tough but necessary jobs that they do, let's face it — if teacher salaries increase, the problem will still exist. There will still be jobs that pay better and attract people who are focused on income. We will probably have more or less the same teachers — those teachers will just have nicer houses and bigger swimming pools, NOT easier jobs. Schools will not magically get more modern equipment, more sophisticated programs, or lower student-teacher ratios. And, perhaps most importantly, better-paid teachers will not result in more students who have the natural intelligence and/or work ethic to succeed in school.

Best wishes to any teachers who are beginning a new year, especially first-timers.

Alan D said...

Church Ministers, certain ones (which add up to many) are federal income tax exempt.