Merit Pay: My hard work doesn’t PAY off as an educator

I’m on my 7th year as a teacher and my 14th as a Mom. Time is something I ponder quite often nowadays. I can feel the time I have with my own children passing too quickly. I think about Lily starting high school next year, and it hits my feels a bit. 

It’s all too easy to lose yourself to teaching. Any given year teachers teach, love, and mentor 20-100+ students. The emotional labor is real, and it’s needed. Students aren’t robots; they deserve teachers that invest in them as human beings. 

I love teaching. I think teaching is fun. I’ve had moments when school politics have pushed me to the brink, but ultimately my love of teaching was strong enough draw me back to the classroom. 

So the context for this post, I’m a mom, my kids are growing up too fast, I love teaching, but I’m pondering the value of my time. 

Well, it’s contract signing time. As I’m signing my contract for this year, I can feel my thoughts whizzing around my head, and the discontent sink into the pit of my stomach. 

  • 6 years teaching experience 
  • Great test scores 
  • Great classroom management skills
  • Innovative teacher
  • Highly effective on evaluations 

I don’t like tooting my own horn, but I’m a great teacher. I care, work hard, and make a difference. 

Guess what I’m getting paid?
The state minimum teacher salary – $33,900

Here’s the kicker guys, my hard work doesn’t PAY off as an educator.  
I can pour my heart and soul into teaching and, in most districts, earn the same salary as an awful teacher. That bothers me. 

I could LITERALLY be the best teacher in the world and have the same salary as the LEAST competent teacher in the world. A system that operates without rewarding hard work just might have problems attracting hard working, bright individuals, right? 

The work hasn’t worn me down. I like what I do, but I am sick of my compensation not being linked to my performance.  I don’t mean just test scores either, but heck I’d even take that! 

I want to be in a profession that rewards hard work, intelligence, critical thinking, and all of the soft skills that an effective teacher must possess to be effective. I’ll be fair and say analyze student data and throw that in the mix too. 

My time is valuable, my skills are valuable, and it’s time that effective educators are rewarded for the value they bring to the classroom and communities.  Maybe, just maybe, that will help attract and retain the motivated and intelligent individuals that our youth deserve. 


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