For Backbreaking Work, Teacher Pay Is Staggering

Like soldiers, teachers need more resources to compete, not blame.
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted May 1, 2011 8:34 AM CDT

(Newser) – When America fails in combat, we don't blame the troops for being lazy, we blame the top brass. So why is it that our response to a failing education system is to blame the teachers? asks Dave Eggers, writing with Nínive Clements Calegari in the New York Times. When combat goes poorly, our response is to give the troops better weapons, training, and resources—and teachers deserve no less. But with more than half of America's 3.2 million teachers set to retire in the next 10 years, Eggers calls this a "rare chance" for America "to prove we are serious about education."

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Salary is an important start, as teachers earn 14% less than other professions with similar education levels, leading to few graduates wanting to teach and a high turnover rate for new teachers. Eggers recommends raising starting salaries from the current $39,000 to around $65,000, as current salaries are too low to attract first-rate university graduates. That would be very expensive, but Eggers compares it to the space race or the interstate highway system. "We had the vision and we had the will and we found a way," he writes. (Read more Dave Eggers stories.)

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