Teachers: important but undervalued

Jake Hopkins, Opinion Editor

Bill Gates, Aristotle, Alexander the Great, what’s something they all have in common?
They all had teachers.
Teachers are in charge of training the next generation of leaders, inventors and philosophers. They are able to influence and shape the world through the people they teach. Yet, for such an important job, we give it so little respect.
Teachers are underpaid and underappreciated.
On average a high school teacher makes $47,626 a year. To put that number into perspective the average salary of a garbage truck driver in the United States is $48,586 a year. We are paying our teachers, who are in charge of raising and cultivating the minds of the next generation, less than we are paying the people who pick up our garbage. This low pay and lack of respect for teachers has a profound effect upon those who are aspiring to become teachers.
Ideally money would not be a deciding factor when people choose careers, but the low pay of teaching is considered a downside of the profession. A University of California national survey of college freshmen showed that only 4.2% of them planned to major in education, a number that is at an all time low, down from 11% in 2000. This decrease in the amount of people aspiring to become teachers is alarming. In a world with so much information, where things are changing so quickly we need more people teaching, not fewer. We need the best of each generation to pass on their knowledge and their experience to the next generation.
With fewer people majoring in education, we could soon find ourselves with a major shortage of teachers. We have already begun to see this problem here at Liberty, as we struggled to replace Spanish teacher Meghan Thompson for several months.
The low pay and the general undervaluing of teachers has lead to fewer and fewer people becoming teachers. We need to start paying teachers what they deserve, not only to motivate more people to become teachers, but to reward those many teachers that have already changed students lives and done a great job, regardless of the pay.