McWilliams: Poudre School District sets good example

Leta McWilliams

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

It isn’t news to most people that teachers aren’t getting paid as much as they should. Last semester, there were marches in Denver and Fort Collins to bring awareness to the lack of funding for public education and show support for an increase in teachers’ salaries. Since these marches, the Poudre School District has announced that teachers’ salaries will be increased for the 2018-2019 school year, setting a great example for other school districts across the state of Colorado.

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In 2016, Colorado was ranked last in the nation for providing teachers with a competitive wage. 

Colorado has a history of undervaluing its teachers. In 2016, Colorado was ranked last in the nation for providing teachers with a competitive wage. In the nation, public school teachers receive an average annual salary of almost $56,000, while the average in Colorado is only about $52,000.

To put this into perspective, the average Colorado living wage, or the wage that is high enough to maintain a normal standard of living, is almost $54,000. This means that on average, teachers in Colorado aren’t making the amount of money they need to afford a normal standard of living.

The PSD is increasing their teachers’ salaries, which is a step in the right direction for all of Colorado’s school districts. For the 2018-2019 school year, teacher salaries at the PSD will start at $37,948, which is a $1,379 increase from the previous school year. Though it’s not great, it’s progress.

This is great news for education students at Colorado State University. There are many students at CSU pursuing degrees in education in over 15 content areas. Though the phrase, “I’m not looking for a high paying job” is common among these students, districts like the PSD are paving the way for future educators to receive the pay they deserve, one high above the average living wage.

Some would argue that paying teachers more isn’t a priority. I was horrified to hear the argument in one of my classes that teachers shouldn’t be paid more because the emotional satisfaction of their job is payment in itself. Though the job has satisfying qualities, being a teacher is both emotionally and physically exhausting. The average teacher works about 50 hours a week, the majority of which is standing on their feet and speaking to an audience that may not want to be there.

Teachers also have to entertain students enough to keep their attention, all while being watched by parents and upper management. It’s a high-pressure job, and it needs to be recognized as such. I encourage anyone, especially those pursuing a higher education, who thinks otherwise to remember that without teachers, it’s highly likely you wouldn’t be where you are today.

All students at CSU should care about how much teachers are being paid, and they should be excited about an increase in their annual salaries. Teachers are the backbone of our education whether they’re primary school teachers or college professors. Without good and well-respected educators, our education would be obsolete.

Leta McWilliams can be reached at letters@collegian and online at @LetaMcWilliams.