By Leah Matloff, age 12

During an intermission at a South Dakota hockey game in December last year, an event called “Dash for Cash” took place. Ten local teachers stood in the middle of the hockey rink, and $5,000 in one-dollar bills was dropped in front of them. The teachers quickly got on their knees and scrambled to pick up the money, which was to be used for school supplies, while the audience laughed and jeered. As you can imagine, this sparked a lot of controversy.

School supplies normally come out of a teacher’s own pocket. This is just one sign that teachers in the United States deserve a raise. In some states, like Mississippi, which ranks last in the nation in average teacher pay, many work multiple jobs just in order to afford a warm bed.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 has made teaching more challenging. A recent survey conducted by Teachers Pay Teachers found that one-third of American teachers were considering leaving their jobs or retiring early due to stress and overwork. “Good teachers are competent humans,” a teacher told Mississippi Today, “and competent humans are going to realize really quickly they can do something a lot less demanding and make more money.”

In Dallas, Texas, a seventh grade English teacher is considering leaving her job like many others due to stress, COVID-19 and overwork. Teaching during the pandemic meant putting her physical and mental health at risk every single day. “During the pandemic, I realized that neither the Texas Education Agency nor our governor cared about our students nor their teachers,” the teacher, who prefers to keep her identity hidden, told Teen Vogue.  

Raising teacher’s salaries across the country would benefit students, as well. If salaries were raised, teachers would no longer have to work two or more jobs; they could then focus all of their attention on their teaching job, meaning we would get a better education. A study by the National Education Association showed that student performance improved by up to 10% after teacher’s salaries were increased by 10%.

Speaking as a student, I believe teachers deserve far more than what they receive. At the very least, we want a country where they aren’t crawling around in the middle of an ice rink, right?