Time, Money, & Respect: The Very Real Challenges, Roadblocks, & Hurdles Public School Teachers Face

Time, Money, & Respect: The Very Real Challenges, Roadblocks, & Hurdles Public School Teachers Face

Written by:
Evan La Ruffa
Nov 27, 2023

Public school teachers in the United States face a mountain of obstacles in their daily dedication to our students and future. Year in and year out, public school teachers and Principals face significant challenges when it comes to the various factors making their job harder than they should and need to be.

These challenges increasingly lead to stress and burnout, which in turn can negatively impact teachers’ overall lives, making everything harder. However, there are strategies that teachers can use to battle low pay and lack of respect, such as creating a support system, taking advantage of professional development opportunities, and advocating for change.

And for those of us who are not teachers, perhaps this article will give us a littl more insight into the largely thankless, yet tireless work they do to support our society on a fundamental level.

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The Challenges of Low Pay and Lack of Respect Faced by Public School Teachers

Public school teachers in the United States are paid relatively low wages when compared to other professions that require a college degree. 

The statistics are even more grim for women. Female teachers earn an average of $13,000 less per year than their male counterparts (The Huffington Post, 2016).

According to the National Education Association, the average salary for public school teachers was $59,660 in 2017-2018, which is nearly $13,000 less than the average salary for all workers with a bachelor’s degree ($72,470). In addition to low salaries, public school teachers also often have to pay for their own classroom supplies and professional development opportunities out of pocket. These expenses can add up quickly and make it difficult for teachers to make ends meet.

Insufficient Professional Development Opportunities

In order to be effective in the classroom, teachers need ongoing professional development opportunities. However, many public schools do not have the funding necessary to provide these opportunities on a regular basis. As a result, teachers are often left to fend for themselves when it comes to finding and paying for professional development courses and materials. This can be a major challenge for teachers who are already working long hours and struggling to make ends meet on their salaries.

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Limited Job Security

Another challenge that public school teachers face is limited job security. Although most states have laws in place that offer some protections for tenured teachers, these laws vary from state to state and can be difficult to navigate. In addition, budget cuts and changing educational priorities can lead to layoffs even for experienced educators. This lack of job security can be extremely stressful for public school teachers who have families to support.

The Stressors of Low Pay and Lack of Respect on Public School Teachers

Public school teachers are constantly under mental and emotional stress due to the challenges of their job. Low pay and lack of respect from society can lead to feelings of fatigue, frustration, and inadequacy. These stressors can take a toll on teachers’ mental and emotional health, potentially leading to burnout.

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Higher Risk of Burnout

The stressors associated with low pay and lack of respect can also lead to burnout. Burnout is a state of physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion that can occur when someone is under constant stress. Symptoms of burnout include feeling overwhelmed, disengaged, and ineffective at work. When teachers are burned out, they may struggle to perform their duties effectively or may even start to hate their jobs. This can have a negative impact on students’ learning experiences.


Decreased Motivation and Productivity

Low pay and lack of respect can also lead to decreased motivation and productivity among public school teachers. When teachers feel undervalued and overworked, they may start to see their jobs as a chore instead of something that is fulfilling or enjoyable. This can lead them to become less engaged in their work, which can in turn negatively affect students’ educational outcomes.

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Strategies to Battle Low Pay and Lack of Respect

It can be difficult to battle low pay and lack of respect on your own. Fortunately, there are things you can do to create a support system that will help you through the challenges you face. First, connect with other teachers. There are likely many people in your same situation who can relate to what you’re going through. Talking to others about your experiences can help you feel less alone and more supported. You can also join or start a teacher’s union or professional organization. These groups can provide essential resources and support, and they advocate for better working conditions for all teachers.

Tap into Professional Development Opportunities

Investing in your professional development is another key strategy for battling low pay and lack of respect. When you’re feeling burned out or undervalued, it can be helpful to remember why you became a teacher in the first place. By taking advantage of professional development opportunities, you can reignite your passion for teaching and remind yourself of the impact you have on your students’ lives. There are many ways to get involved in professional development, such as attending conferences or workshops, taking online courses, or participating in research projects.

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Advocate for Better Pay and Respect

Though it may seem like an uphill battle, it’s important to advocate for better pay and respect for all teachers. This includes speaking up about the challenges you face at work, sharing your experiences with others, and supporting initiatives that aim to improve working conditions for teachers. 

When more people are aware of the issues public school teachers face, it becomes easier to bring about positive change. And at IPaintMyMind, we’re dedicated to exactly that.

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Written by:
Evan La Ruffa
Nov 27, 2023