Survey Says Teachers are Underpaid and Underappreciated


A poll taken by The Huffington Post and YouGov as a nod to National Teacher Appreciation Week shows that the majority of Americans believe that teachers in public schools are underpaid and underappreciated.

Of the 1,000 participants in the survey, most said they feel good about the teachers in their community public schools, reports Rebecca Klein of The Huffington Post. The vote of confidence came from respondents of differing ages, incomes, and regions.

Those participants who identified themselves as black, Democratic, or members of households with incomes over $80,000 were the most likely to say teachers were underpaid. Those who lived in the northeast or who were Republicans were less likely to say the same. Most of those who participated in the survey said they thought teachers were underappreciated by the general population.

The Huffington Post asked its Twitter followers whether or not teachers are shown enough appreciation. Some teachers responded that their students and parents make them feel appreciated, but they added that they felt less valued by society.

Teachers can visit and celebrate during their week of appreciation, with some retail establishments giving teachers special deals and sales this week. Sarah Guaglione, writing for iSchoolGuide, reports that Staples, the national office supply chain, is offering an exclusive coupon to teachers who have joined its Staples Teacher Rewards program. Teachers receive a 40% rebate in Staples Teachers Rewards on school supplies, teaching and art materials, posters, cleaning supplies, and laminating.

Office Depot (owned by Staples, Inc.) and OfficeMax also are celebrating this week with a $5 off $25 savings.

At Office Depot we acknowledge and celebrate teachers’ hard work and dedication all year long,” said Tim Rea, executive vice president and chief marketing officer for Office Depot, Inc. “We are proud to partner with The Education Center and provide everyday valuable benefits for teachers through our Office Depot® OfficeMax® Rewards program.” 

The debate over respect for the teaching profession has turned toward other nations like South Korea, where society seems to place more importance on education. Last month in Washington, D.C., President Barack Obama praised the education system of South Korea citing that it pays its teachers as much as doctors and engineers. The Korea Times reports that the president said:

“My sister was a teacher, and so I know how little she got paid. It’s hard to support a family. And there are a lot of young people who are really talented who want to go into teaching,” Obama said.

However, he continued, in places like Finland and South Korea, where the education systems are flourishing, teachers are paid generously and are considered to be part of a respected profession.  Since taking office in 2009, Obama has complimented South Korea’s education “zeal and system” many times. But, according to The Korea Times, teachers make nowhere near the salaries that doctors make in the country.

The Center on International Education Benchmarking states that teaching is a highly respected profession in South Korea, as well as being one of the most popular career choices for the country’s young people. Not only is the pay excellent, but teachers enjoy good working conditions and job stability.

In South Korea, parents pay school fees which can bring total school spending up to 15% of the gross national product. Parents also spend tremendous amounts on private tutoring. Some experts say that it is the willingness of Koreans to spend whatever it takes on their children’s education that has been responsible for the remarkable rise of the South Korean economy.