Will More Work Mean Higher Pay?

Should teachers receive higher pay for taking on more work?

With many districts across the country making the decision to close schools to accommodate budget cuts, some with careers in teaching are asking for higher pay as compensation for the increased workload that they've been asked to take on.

In Duluth, Minn., for example, some teachers are finding themselves responsible for up to 49 students at a time, according to the Duluth News Tribune. As the local teachers union begins its contract negotiations, it is attempting to put a cap on the number of students in a teacher's day, and to financially compensate those teachers who are asked to go beyond that number.

According to the National Education Association, Americans largely support higher starting salaries for public school teachers - approximately $43,000, which is $7,000 higher than the average starting salary of education majors who graduated in 2009.

"If we want to attract, retain, and motivate the best and the brightest, we need to raise the starting salaries of teachers to be competitive with other professions," Bob Willoughby, associate director research with the New Jersey Education Association, said in a statement.

One of the major concerns of teachers facing larger class sizes is that students will not get the individual attention they need. The more students there are in a class, the more time teachers have to devote to classroom management rather than instruction.

According to the National Council of Teachers of English, a teacher who has 25 students in a class, with periods lasting 50 minutes, has a maximum of two minutes of one-on-one interaction with each student. While this is not exactly ideal, teachers are hoping that their efforts and the increased amount of work they are taking on will be rewarded.

The Duluth teachers union is also requesting that an increase in yearly salary be awarded to reflect the additional responsibility being taken on by educators. The teachers' current contract expired in June.

Duluth, of course, is not the first teachers union to ask for additional financial compensation. The Chicago Teachers Union famously went on strike in 2012 to ask for a pay increase as well as more resources for the city's struggling neighborhood schools.

This article is sponsored by Western Governors University, a non-profit, accredited, online university. WGU's Teachers College offers multiple online degree programs for current teachers or those looking to become teachers. To find out more, please visit www.wgu.edu/wisecareers_teachers

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