“During the Covid-19 pandemic, debates over school closures and student safety grew in an understandable way… Covid-19 revealed how teachers — in addition to nurturing, protecting and mentoring our children — are essential to a smoothly running society. It’s time to pay them accordingly.” C. Coleman, The New York Times, May 28, 2021
ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key
Excerpt: The Case for Paying All Teachers Six Figures, By Colette Coleman, The New York Times, May 28, 2021
“Significant raises can keep more people from ending up like me and countless others: a passionate educator who turned to another line of work largely in response to what I saw as incommensurate pay.
In 2019, Kamala Harris, then a Democratic presidential candidate, said at a rally on the campus of Texas Southern University what teachers sadly know to be true: ‘We are a nation and a society that pretends to care about education.’In a PDK poll from that year, most educators reported that they don’t want their children to enter the profession. About half of teachers surveyed said they had seriously considered quitting. A troubling number follow through.
During her campaign, Ms. Harris proposed something that, if enacted, could reverse this trend and prove we do care about education: federally subsidized $13,500 teacher raises.
This would be a sound prescription for our near-term teacher shortage and serve as a long-term investment in our children’s futures, increasing our nation’s lagging productivity.
Ms. Harris’s plan to use federal and state funds to boost educators’ annual salaries to an average of $70,000 or more would be good; getting them to six figures would be even better.
After all, entry-level Facebook engineers earn well over $100,000. On average nationally, teachers start at under $40,000… Research collected by the Center for American Progress found that ‘the teacher labor market is responsive to changes in pay just like other occupations and that changes in pay can affect not only teacher attrition, but also the pool of candidates choosing to enroll in teacher preparation programs.’
Years ago, when I quit my Wall Street job to teach in the Los Angeles Unified School District, I thought — as the culture has taught us all — that a pay cut was just the cost of following a calling, a reduction taken to do meaningful work. I soon learned I was wrong…After I left that role because of pay that didn’t make up for the burnout I felt and went to teach in Indonesia, I got those nice gifts, too. But more crucially, I got better working conditions and objective confirmation that my time and expertise were valuable: It came in the form of money. The school paid me like the well-educated professional that I was.
Here in America, although they’re not paid like it, teachers are in high demand. Covid has made what’s known as the broken teacher pipeline worse, but it has been around since long before the pandemic. A large survey conducted in 2020 found that 67 percent of teachers ‘have or had a second job to make ends meet.’
A 2019 report revealed that fewer college students are studying to become teachers and that because of ‘low salaries, difficult working conditions and a lack of career pathway opportunities,’ teaching generally cannot compete ‘with other high-status professions such as medicine and law.’
My dissatisfaction and that of many other former teachers extended beyond compensation. Attracting and retaining highly qualified educators will also require, for instance, improvements in working conditions. Meaningful raises are a strong start, though. Competitive salaries would lower attrition rates and attract fresh talent that would push everyone to do better.”
Celebrating Gay Pride Month:
Franklin Edward Kameny (May 21, 1925 – October 11, 2011) was an American gay rights activist. He has been referred to as “one of the most significant figures” in the American gay rights movement. n 1957, Kameny was dismissed from his position as an astronomer in the U.S. Army‘s Army Map Service in Washington, D.C., because of his homosexuality, leading him to begin “a Herculean struggle with the American establishment” that would “spearhead a new period of militancy in the homosexual rights movement of the early 1960s”. Wikipedia
NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.
Level: Intermediate – Advanced
Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.
Time: Approximately 60 minutes.
Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.
Objective: Students will read and discuss the article with afocus on improving reading comprehension and improving oral skills. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.
I. Pre-Reading Activities
Predictions: Using a Pre-reading Organizer
Directions: Examine the title of the post and of the actual article. Next examine any photos. Write a paragraph describing what you think this article will discuss. A pre-reading organizer may be used.
II. While Reading Activities
Directions: Try to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. You use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.
- During the Covid-19 pandemic, debates over school closures and student safety grew.
- There was no conversation about lagging salaries for K-12 educators.
- Each week brings more vaccine jabs and more news of school districts fully reopening in the fall.
- Covid-19 revealed just how important educators are to our children.
- Significant raises can keep more people from ending up like me.
- Vice President Harris proposed a solution.
- Ms. Harris’s plan is to use federal and state funds to boost educators’ annual salaries.
- Entry-level Facebook engineers earn over $100,000.
- High-quality teachers can boost student performance on reading and math tests twofold.
- I left that role because of pay that didn’t make up for the burnout I felt.
Grammar Focus: Structure and Usage
Directions: The following groups of sentences are from the article. One of the sentences in each group contains a grammatical error. Identify the sentence (1, 2, or 3 ) from each group that contains the grammatical error.
- Attracting highly qualified educator will also be required.
- Competitive salaries would lower attrition rates.
- Significant raises can keep teachers from leaving.
- A pay cut was just the cost of following a calling.
- I got grown-up goody baskets from parents.
- Many teacher get nice gifts.
- Here in America, although they’re not paid like it, teacher are in high demand.
- The cost of living and the price of raising a family is higher than ever.
- Even before Covid-19, many students lacked permanent teachers.
Directions: Students choose the correct word (in bold) to complete the sentences taken from the article. They are to choose from the options presented.
“After I left/leave that roll/role because of pay/paid that didn’t/don’t made/make up for the/an burnout I felt and went to teach in Indonesia, I get/got those nice gifts, too. But more crucially, I got better working conditions and objective confirmation that mine/my time and expertise were valuable: It came in the form/from of money. The school paid/pay me like the well-educated professional that I was.”
III. Post Reading Activities
Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing
Directions: Have students discuss the following questions/statements. Afterwards, students share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the topics mentioned.
- Why did the issue of increasing educator’s salaries stop receiving attention?
- The author mentions three important areas teachers deal with when teaching. What are they? Can you think of other areas educators cover?
- The author states, “Significant raises can keep more people from ending up like me and countless others…” What situation was she referring to?
- Vice President Kamala Harris once stated, “We are a nation and a society that pretends to care about education.” Why do you think she said this?
- What solution did Vice President Harris propose? How could her plan help our education system?
- According to the author what is the average starting salary for teachers? For all of the work that teachers do is this a fair figure?
- What function does the RAND corporation serve?
- What idea did the author have about taking a ‘pay-cut’? What do you think about teachers taking a cut in pay?
- In which country did the author find satisfaction as a teacher? Why?
- What is the ‘broken teacher hotline’?
- Which two professions compete with teaching? Why?
- What are your personal thoughts on becoming a teacher?
- List three new ideas that you’ve learned about the topic from the reading, two things that you did not understand in the reading, and one thing you would like to know that the article did not mention. Share your responses with your class.