Numerous studies have shown that the key factor that impacts student academic performance the most is the quality of the teacher that is in the classroom. It would therefore make logical sense to place significant financial investment into recruiting and producing teachers of the highest quality if the goal is to improve student performance. The higher the quality of the teacher, the better the education that students will receive. There must be a significant increase in the renumeration of those who are investing in the students on a regular basis.
The battle for the future of education begins with motivating the best college and university students to choose to pursue careers in education. It is extremely difficult to do that with the existing non-competitive salaries and limited career trajectory structures that permeate educational systems. Advancements in curriculum, pedagogy, and school management strategies should be accompanied by financial incentives that are on par with other industries to lure top level talent.
The priority must be to allure and attract the best possible potential educators to teach and pour into the next generations. Unfortunately, many people who would be phenomenal teachers can’t financially afford to be teachers. Too many of the best and brightest higher education students in terms of academic performance won’t even consider careers in education because the salaries won’t allow them to live comfortably in many areas.
The missing link is investing in the link between students and the education that they receive. You can’t have an impoverished system of inputs and reasonably expect an abundant production of outputs. You can’t bypass producers if you want consistent production. Sometimes reform needed and sometimes revolution is required. It is time for a revolution in teacher pay beginning with a minimum starting salary of $80,000 across the board.
The existing teacher workforce should not be overlooked in the effort to recruit great new teachers. Teachers who are currently working in classrooms have stabilized the existing implementation of educational programming and deserve to have a level a financial stability that allows them to lock in even more on perfecting their craft. Their economic status should be lifted at a rate that is proportionately above the rate the new teachers that need to be attracted to the profession.
Unfortunately, many teachers can barely afford the necessities of life in a lot of major cities. The salaries of teachers have not even come close to keeping up with the rising cost of living. Economic stability needs to be provided to those who are pouring into children daily. Even those who may have a supreme calling to the teaching profession eventually realize the reality of escalating bills and other financial obligations.
Too many great teachers are forced to leave the profession because they find it too difficult to make ends meet. Temporary raises or episodic bonuses will not be sufficient in the long run. There needs to be dedicated funding streams that revolutionize the status and appeal of the teaching profession. Teachers deserve to be respected and have a competitive salary.
The challenge of the recruitment and retainment of high-quality teachers is perhaps the most important one for the future of education. The education of children deserves to be a vocation that is intentionally chosen and not one that people just fall into by default. That will not happen without tremendous increases in teacher pay. The best and brightest educators need to be incentivized to deliver high level curriculum and programming to students. Adequately funding education means more than just providing facilities and supplies. It is time for a revolution of financial investment in teachers who are the crucial link between students and the high-quality education that they deserve.
Dr. Marcus Bright is a scholar and educational administrator