Teaching Profession

Honored Teachers Want More Pay and Respect

By Julie Blair — May 17, 2000 3 min read

Aretha Franklin isn’t the only one clamoring for “a little respect.” The nation’s top educators also feel unappreciated, underpaid, and overworked, all factors that they say contribute to the inability of school districts to retain classroom teachers.

For More Information

The survey is available for free by calling Scholastic Inc. at (212) 343-6565.

Their laments were captured in a poll of 400 educators, honored as national teachers of the year over the past 50 years and state teachers of the year over the past 10 years. It was conducted by Scholastic Inc. and the Council of Chief State School Officers and released last week.

“Scholastic/CCSSO Teacher Voices 2000 Survey” was constructed to discern why teachers leave the classroom, illuminate changes that would encourage them to stay, and identify methods to recruit new talent, Carl C. Andrews, a project associate for the Washington-based council, said in an interview.

The survey shows “that our nation’s leading teachers speaking in near-unison voices on the issues most important to them,” Gordon M. Ambach, the executive director of the state chiefs’ group, said in a statement. “Our council urges policymakers, educational leaders, and the public to take a close look at these compelling results, and to help elevate teachers to the high degree of respect and compensation they deserve.”

Scholarships and Loans

Some 90 percent of respondents reported a need for support from school administrators, according to the survey. About 70 percent said teachers needed to take a more active role in school decisions, and 50 percent said they believed staff morale was strained.

Other challenges that they cited as contributing to a frustrating work experience included a deluge of paperwork, the burden of nonteaching responsibilities, beleaguered colleagues, and a lack of parental involvement.

“These are issues that affect all of us across the board in every geographic region and in every school district, ... whether or not they are affluent or poor,” said Faith G. Kline, the current Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year, who teaches 4th grade in Philadelphia.

In addition, a majority of the teachers polled said they needed more planning time with colleagues and more professional development. They also agreed that mentoring programs were imperative for beginning teachers.

At the same time, the respondents believe they are not being justly compensated for their efforts. Eight out of 10 educators polled said that teachers—beginners and veterans alike—must be better paid.

The average national salary for teachers was $42,500 in 1998-99, according to the National Education Association, and $25,000 for beginning teachers.

“When, in some places, your salary qualifies you for food stamps, that’s an issue of respect,” Ms. Kline said.

Scholarships and Loans

The U.S. Department of Education estimates that the nation will need 2 million new teachers by 2002, and the educators polled suggested handing out perks to help recruit them.

According to the respondents, the most successful tactics would be to provide scholarships and loan-forgiveness programs for students. The teachers also support the idea of bonuses for educators who agree to teach in urban or rural communities.

The job of recruiting should not be left to colleges, state education departments, and school districts, the teachers said. Instead, a majority of respondents recommended that educators take part in recruitment, along with business and industry, local, state, and federal governments, and community and parent organizations.

“With a keen insight, veteran teachers have identified the serious cracks in the teacher pipeline and what our nation needs to do to attract and keep talented professionals in the classroom,” Bob Chase, the president of the NEA, said in a statement. “At the heart of the teacher- shortage crisis is the fact that teachers often are badly treated, burn out quickly, and leave the profession.”

A version of this article appeared in the May 17, 2000 edition of Education Week as Honored Teachers Want More Pay and Respect


Jobs The EdWeek Top School Jobs Virtual Career Fair
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Mathematics Webinar
Engaging Young Students to Accelerate Math Learning
Join learning scientists and inspiring district leaders, for a timely panel discussion addressing a school district’s approach to doubling and tripling Math gains during Covid. What started as a goal to address learning gaps in
Content provided by Age of Learning & Digital Promise, Harlingen CISD
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Curriculum Webinar
How to Power Your Curriculum With Digital Books
Register for this can’t miss session looking at best practices for utilizing digital books to support their curriculum.
Content provided by OverDrive

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Teaching Profession New York City Will End Controversial Absent Teacher Pool
Education department officials there announced that they will place hundreds of sidelined teachers in permanent teaching positions starting next year.
Michael Elsen-Rooney, New York Daily News
4 min read
Image of a teacher in a classroom full of kids.
Teaching Profession Teachers Walk Off the Job at Chicago’s Urban Prep
With just two weeks left to the school year, teachers went on strike over what they say is a lack of support for special education students.
Karen Ann Cullotta, Chicago Tribune
3 min read
Images shows hand drawn group of protestors.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Teaching Profession Opinion Compassion Fatigue Is Overwhelming Educators During the Pandemic
Educators need acknowledgment and healing while dealing with their own and others' grief. Here’s what administrators can do to help.
Shayla Ewing
5 min read
Illustration of empty shirt and cloud
iStock/Getty Images Plus
Teaching Profession Is It Time to Relax Teacher Dress Codes?
After teaching at home in comfortable clothes, some school and district leaders support casual attire for teachers returning to classrooms.
4 min read
Illustration of clothes on hangers