In many nations of the world, the office of “teacher” is highly regarded, rewarded with lofty status in the community, and supported by an appropriately high wage.
I remember when I grew up in a small village in Germany, along with the farmers and laborers, there were three “professionals” in the village:
Der Herr Doktor, der Herr Pfarrer und der Herr Lehrer
The doctor (who made housecalls when you were sick), the priest and the teacher. In German, they are called the Mr. Doctor, Mr. Priest and Mr. Teacher. The three “professionals” were not addressed by their name but by their profession.
Of course, in my little schoolhouse, the Mr. Teacher taught all eight grades in one large classroom. The first grade had 6 kids, the second 7, and so on. The teacher started in the front of the room and worked his way toward the back. Somehow we got an education. That teacher’s methods and skills got me started on a path to learn Latin at age 11, English at 13, French at 15, along with all the other classic subjects. I am forever grateful for the foundation I was given at an early age, solely due to the attentiveness of my teachers.
The three professionals formed the “society” in our village. Everyone looked up to them. Even the Mayor. And especially the children.
Today, in America, our teachers are at the very bottom of the salary range for graduates with four-year degrees. According to salary.com, the median salary of a high school teacher is $54,473. For an elementary school teacher, it is $52,471. It’s even more dire for early education professionals. A daycare center teacher makes $27,910.
The first five years of a child’s life are the most important ones. They shape their character, their abilities, their creativity and provide the foundation for the child for the rest of his life. Yet, we pay the people that we put in charge of their education one of the very smallest salaries on the scale for four-year degrees.