What is the value of a great teacher? Some 16,000 Hillsborough County educators were shocked to find out the referendum that would have given them a pay increase failed before county residents.
BY DEXTER MCCREE, Feature Writer
HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY — Some 16,000 teachers must have woken up two weeks ago in total shock at a referendum that would have given them a pay increase failed before county residents. How could this be at a time when so much is required of teachers?
Let us start with the teacher’s worth. What is it worth to a parent for the teacher to prepare daily lesson plans to increase your child’s knowledge so they can have a fighting chance in this competitive world?
What is it worth for a teacher to take on the role of a disciplinarian to a child who has taken, in many cases, the same attitude as a parent, or in some cases where a parent cannot discipline their child but expects the teacher to do so?
What is it worth for a teacher to put their life on the line through sickness, disease and the aftermath of COVID yet stand amid a classroom because students and parents struggle with online education? To put this value in dollars, is a teacher worth 50, 60, or $70,000? Evidently, they are not.
A referendum that would have increased property taxes by $1 for every $1,000 of assessed value failed in the heart of voters and at the ballot box. The school district wanted to use the money to pay for teacher and staff salaries and other expenses. A recount of the votes for a property tax increase for Hillsborough County Schools failed to change the outcome.
What are the 16,000 teachers in Hillsborough County thinking regarding their own worth? A high number of teachers are leaving the education profession not because they do not love teaching or the students but because taxpayers do not value them. Teachers throughout the country share these sentiments.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics data reported on June 20, approximately 300,000 public-school teachers and other staff left the field between February 2020 and May 2022.
Teacher burnout is a significant reason for departure from the profession across the nation. The pandemic and shifting political landscape have left teachers feeling overworked and undervalued. According to an August Gallup poll, K-12 teachers report the highest burnout rate of all U.S. professions.
“It is challenging for teachers to pour out their own resources, time, money, and energy to students who are as challenging today as ever and then not feel appreciated and supported,” said retired Chicago teacher Monica Harmon.
“Teachers sacrifice their own family to try and better other families. Teachers do not teach for the income; It’s for the outcome of developing citizens who will grow and make positive contributions to their community. However, the income helps to ease the burden and show teachers value.”
Now, because of the failed referendum that would have increased teachers’ pay, Hillsborough County schools must go back to the drawing board and figure out how to address the ever-growing crisis of adding new teachers and maintaining those currently in the profession. The result of the recent vote brings into question the value of a teacher.