Cartoon by Ariana Ravitz, LT
Behind every vibrant classroom and every learning experience in school, there is a teacher. Behind every test and class discussion, there is a teacher. While sometimes we may take them for granted, educators are the backbone of our school and deserve our support.
Every day when we enter our classrooms, our teachers are always there, prepared for the day’s lessons and greeting students with a smile. They deserve the same passion and respect from us, their students.
While teachers are a staple in our society, their pay does not reflect their value and is often not enough to properly support a teacher and their family. According to Director of Human Relations Lori Belke, CESJDS teachers receive an average salary of $74,000 which, while significantly higher than the national average of $63,610, is less than the Maryland average of $77,831 per year.
However, as the cost of living increases, our teachers are still not proportionally compensated. For context, the average cost of a Montgomery County home is $563,579, up 11% from last year’s price. This steep increase in home prices has not been matched by the payment that our teachers receive.
JDS teachers also only receive two weeks of paid family leave. This is a great disservice. They do such an excellent job educating us students that it is only fair for them to get the chance to spend time with their own newborns for more than two weeks.
Teachers are federally guaranteed twelve weeks of unpaid leave with their kids, but when teachers rely on their salaries to support their families, taking off work for that long is not an option. They are forced to enter their children in expensive childcare facilities or hire nannies; either option is incredibly financially taxing. JDS could rectify this issue by increasing the amount of paid family leave that teachers receive.
It’s true that teachers at JDS receive sick days off, reduced lunch rates and their choice of multiple healthcare plans. However, those benefits do not make up for the level of mental and physical effort that they exert each day. From manning classrooms to helping students after school, teacher contributions cannot be overlooked.
The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated teachers’ problems. In 2021, a RAND survey found that a quarter of teachers wanted to quit their current job by the end of the year. 30% also wanted to change professions entirely. We clearly need to do more to keep teachers in the classroom.
Even at JDS, turnover has become a problem. Of the JDS Upper School staff pictured in the 2021 yearbook, 16% left their jobs at the end of last school year. That is a very high percentage, and we need to work to lower it by improving conditions for our faculty and staff.
We feel that teachers deserve more: more respect, more compensation and more gratitude. We encourage students to reach out to their teachers. We encourage the JDS board and administration to take a closer look at teacher compensation and family leave. We need to improve teacher conditions and give them the regard they deserve.