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Opinion: Without Teachers, no society can function

We must stop telling teachers they are overpaid because who are we (non-teachers) to say that? Teachers deserve to get paid as much as we owe them because, without them, no profession would exist.
Image by Sarah Mai

“Stand for the teacher and honor his rank / for a teacher is almost as a prophet / Do you know of someone nobler than / he who nurtures minds and hearts” – Ahmed Shawqi (The great 20th century Arab poet).

Arguably, teachers are one of the most, if not the most, important members of any society because how could any society function without educating its children? If you have been following the news, you might have noticed more and more teachers have been leaving the field over the past two years.

This is happening because of several factors. (a) they aren’t paid enough (which is honestly a shame), (b) they are under unbearable pressure, (c) there is a lack of proper funding for schools, which means teachers have to pay out of their own pockets to provide school supplies for their students at times. Again, this never would have happened if proper funding was allocated to this field.

Between February 2020 and May 2022, it was reported that approximately 300,000 public school teachers and staff quit their jobs. When 300,000 individuals leave a specific field, something needs to be fixed. Otherwise, why would they leave in such high numbers?

Of course, we also have to take into account that it’s not only a low salaries problem; the problem extends beyond that. Teachers were (and still are) under insufferable pressure due to the pandemic, and the politicization of the profession has worsened the situation; some teachers are being told what to teach and what not to teach.

Everyone knows when a person decides to enter the teaching field, they are not doing so for the sake of money (obviously) but for the sake of making a difference in children’s lives. Shouldn’t a person like this be honored and paid sufficiently? Besides, teachers play a crucial role in inspiring students to choose a career field.

Back in 8th grade, I had a remarkable social studies teacher, Mr. Rodgers, who was the reason I began enjoying social studies to the point where I was seriously thinking about becoming a social studies teacher myself. Because he was such a unique, impressive teacher who knew how to teach in an extraordinary way, he always made a difference in his students’ lives, including mine. In his class, I exceeded my own expectations and achieved things I would’ve never achieved had I had another teacher. I always like to tell people that I have a pre-Mr. Rodgers academic life and a post-Mr. Rodgers academic life. He broadened my horizons and inspired me. He always knew how to push me to do better, yet simultaneously, he gave me a chance to step back and ask for help whenever I needed it. I knew I would excel in whatever subject he might teach because Mr. Rodgers will always be Mr. Rodgers, the teacher who changed his students’ lives for 31 years.

Perhaps you, too, had a teacher like Mr. Rodgers – though I believe no one can be like him – and you believe every student deserves such a teacher. Most of us have had remarkable teachers throughout our academic life, and yes, these teachers changed our lives and contributed a great deal to shaping our future and the future of our country.

Don’t these teachers deserve to get a decent salary that will, at least, help them work in this demanding field? Isn’t the future of this country’s education worth allocating decent funding to it? We can’t ask teachers to go above and beyond in their jobs when we don’t provide them with their basic needs. And no matter how much they get paid, they deserve much more.

To all teachers – especially Mr. Rodgers, Ms. Timmel, Ms. Ramirez, Mrs. Plager, Mrs. Speltz, Mr. Larsen (the greatest math teacher ever), Mrs. Adams, Mr. McGuire, Mrs. Casper, Ms. Boyles, and Ms. Hazard – who played an important role in my life, thank you! And to all teachers in the U.S., we appreciate and need you all, and please know that you have all had a great impact on at least some of your students.

Legislators, let’s not just stand for teachers and honor their ranks; instead, let’s pay them the salaries they deserve.


Amina Hasan is a freshman at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.

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