Sep 14, 2017
My thoughts on the teacher income gap.
By Megan O'Connor, Co-founder & CEO, Clark
On Tuesday, Education Week reported that a recent study from the Organization for Economic Development and Cooperation (OEDC) found teachers in the U.S. make less than 60 cents on the dollar compared to others at their education level. This means today’s college graduates have less incentive to become K-12 teachers in the U.S. than ever before. It’s no wonder that U.S. academic achievement lags behind that of their peers in other countries. And yet we remain shocked that among the 35 members of the OED, the U.S. ranked 30th in math and 19th in science.
We need to stop being surprised and acknowledge that the way in which we fail to honor educators as professionals is the root cause for our country’s low educational rankings.
The solution for our country’s educational deficiencies has always been clear to me: it’s the teacher. Not the teacher that we cut down based on standardized test scores, not the teacher we threaten to take tenure away from, not the teacher given a 1.5% raise every 3-5 years (less than the increase needed to cover inflation). The only solution to the problems faced by the US education system is the supported teacher.
It’s too bad we haven’t gotten our act together as a country to support them.
The vision for Clark has always been educator-first. Our mission is to provide economic stability and opportunity to all educators. That’s because a tutor who is called upon to support a child falling behind produces the best educational outcomes when they themselves are supported. That’s why we developed the Clark features to take away any of the stress and logistics related to running a tutoring business (whether that be a business of one or many) so that a tutor can focus their attention on what they do best: educating.
As the co-founder of a business that works with educators in the private market, I can’t help but have a heavy heart for those underpaid educators working in today’s classrooms. Even more so, I can’t help but feel for every recent college graduate who wanted to be a teacher, but chose another career so they could make rent instead.
As many of you know, Clark was inspired by my mom. My mom the public school teacher--the single parent public school teacher. That combo put her at significantly higher risk for being forced to quit teaching to find a higher salary in an alternative market (40% higher, it appears), but instead she found tutoring. The only reason my mother was able to continue to teach in the classroom was her ability to make extra money on the side from tutoring.
Thinking entrepreneurially and starting a side hustle as a tutor kept my mom a teacher (and a very good one at that), yet we as a country have a habit of cutting down teachers who have thought entrepreneurially about their teaching craft. It’s a situation that puts educators between a rock and a hard place: continue on as they have without making ends meet, or receive criticism if they attempt to expand their horizons.
Here at Clark, we believe the path to educators making a sustainable living starts with changing the conversation around educator income. Our challenge is to bring this conversation to a place where it results in better student outcomes by ensuring we take care of those who take care of our children. Educators deserve better, and it’s time we started delivering the way they always have.
*Originally posted on Megan O'Connor's Medium blog