2019 Teachers Valued  Getty
What Americans have said

What teachers said: Do teachers feel valued by their communities?

In addition to the traditional PDK poll of Americans, PDK convened online focus groups with public school parents and public school teachers, thanks to funding support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. These comments are drawn from those two groups.

Salaries is a huge issue in teacher burnout and retaining highly qualified teachers. In my state, the average salary of teachers has decreased $40 over the past 25 years while the salaries of other professional holding similar degrees have increased $323 (Education Minnesota). This is more than ridiculous. I will never make anywhere close to six figures even if I get my doctorate. We are literally undervalued in society, yet we continue to have more expectations put upon us. We have the job that impacts the future the most, which, in turn, makes it the heaviest load.

Anna, 27, Black early elementary teacher in urban Minnesota

I wish teaching in the USA would be more of a prestigious profession as it is elsewhere in the world. The low salaries and restrictive budgets are definitely a sore spot.

Jennifer, 35, Hispanic kindergarten teacher in rural New Jersey

Everyone wants the teacher to do more and more, and parents are not living up to their end of raising their own children.

Trisha, 36, White 1st-grade teacher in rural New Mexico

The thing I love most about being a teacher is helping my students succeed both academically and vocationally.

Deborah, 53, White high school life skills teacher in suburban Missouri

I have taught school now for 37 years, and I find working with youth to be the most rewarding and delightful career there could be. Teaching is a calling in life. I wouldn't have been happy doing any other career because teaching requires acting, storytelling, dramatization, a love for the subject you are trying to impart to others. The most exciting thing about teaching is sharing the information about a subject and knowing you have enriched their lives by giving them a heads up on life matters. Teaching can be the most rewarding career if you have a passion for kids and sharing information with people. I love young people, and I love helping people as well as teaching. As a teacher, you play many roles, often times you are a listener, mentor, friend, confident, parent, cheerleader, and a caring adult who they can trust. I will never change professions because kids are real, sometimes too honest, but you will always get from them what they think.

Jean, 60, mixed-race high school teacher in suburban Delaware

We are not adequately paid for working nights and weekends. I love my job, but children not to be teachers so they will be able to spend some quality time with their children instead of preparing lessons, grading, or working another job to make ends meet.

Julio 47, Hispanic upper elementary teacher in urban Arizona

The parents in the community where I teach do respect and value the teachers. Many of our parents hail from other countries where perhaps access to schooling is more challenging so they are grateful that here their children are able to attend school with much more ease.

Jennifer, 35, Hispanic kindergarten teacher in rural New Jersey

It would take something very drastic to ever pull me away from teaching and coaching. Yes, there are going to be bad days. The seasons of your teaching career won't always be positive. However, it is amazing how it just takes one positive interaction to make a teacher forget about the negative! I don't entertain thoughts of changing careers or exploring my options. I am quite happy with both my role and the school environment.

Brian, 30, White high school teacher in suburban Texas

Any time I tell people I’m a teacher, I’m met with a warm response. And in our local community, we’ve had times where my wife (who is also a teacher) and I are out to dinner, and some parent of a former student will pick up the tab. Heck, I’ve had parents send beers my way at the brewery before. It’s a super positive situation in my community, at least anecdotally.

Jed, 35, White middle school technology teacher in rural Washington

By and large, the population of our county values our educational system. We are consistently rated among the top school systems in the country. That being said, that doesn't necessarily mean they would go so far as to support tax increases to fund higher salaries. I hope that future generations will regard education as a profession worthy of funding on par with other necessary professions, including medical.

Tim, 50, White middle school special education teacher in suburban Virginia

I work in a very well-supported and great school district. I believe the town appreciates our school and how hard teachers work. I know this is true because we get a lot of parental support and involvement. The families often reach out to admin to say how proud and happy they are of teachers. Conflicts are resolved relatively easily because we have strong relationships with the families. I also work in a wealthy district that pays teachers fairly well.

Andrea, 28, White middle school art teacher in urban Massachusetts

The roles of teachers have diminished in my community and the public in general. Somehow the tables have turned, and we are seen as enemies and no longer a part of the village. Our opinions on education and classroom practices don't seem to be valued as much as they used to be. I do not encourage anyone to go into this profession mainly because I believe conditions for teaching are going to get worse and not any better. There are plenty of more professions that pay way more and appreciate you more.

Colleen, 41, Black high school teacher in suburban Georgia

This is a smoke-and-mirror situation with the community respecting teachers. The community, politicians, people in general say they love and admire teachers, but they are not willing to increase teachers’ pay. I think the states/districts don't respect teachers in reality, only with lip service not reality. If they respected teachers, the pay would be respectful pay and not lower pay for the immense job of working with our country's gold. The teacher and substitute pay in my community is deplorable.

Jean, 60, mixed-race high school teacher in suburban Delaware

Share this perspective: