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10 Reasons We Should Celebrate World Teachers’ Day

Photograph by Twenty20

It's one of the most important jobs—and one of the most consistently undervalued. Here's why teachers around the world need our recognition—not just on October 5, World Teachers' Day, but every day of the year.

Because they're more than glorified babysitters

There's an online meme you might've seen: If we think of teachers in the U.S. as glorified babysitters, then we should pay them that way.

Here's the math: At $10 per hour for six hours each day, you earn $60 per day. Multiply that by five days a week, that's $300. Multiply that by 36 weeks, that's $10,800 per student. Then you multiply that times a conservative 30 students in each class—which is $324,000.

"There's a good start," reads one version. Compare that to the actual average income of a teacher in the U.S.: $59,850.

Because you'd be surprised who was once a schoolteacher
What do Mr. T and Stephen King have in common? They were both teachers once. Mr. T taught gym in Chicago in the 1970s, while Stephen King taught in Hampden, Maine. Other famous teachers include author J.K. Rowling, actors Hugh Jackman and Benedict Cumberbatch, singer Sting, computer whiz Steve Wozniak and Gene Simmons of the rock band Kiss.

Because, in the end, we trust teachers
Even if they're not paid as well as other professions, we trust them. Grade school teachers ranked third among the most trusted professions in the U.S., according to a 2018 Gallup poll.

Because, around the world, teaching is vastly undervalued
Elementary school teachers in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Turkey and Greece make less than $35,000 a year—even at the top of the pay scale.

Because many teachers in the U.S. must work more than one job
One in five teachers in the U.S. has a second job to make ends meet. But that's not even the half of it. "I Work 3 Jobs And Donate Blood Plasma to Pay the Bills" reads the headline of a recent Time Magazine cover story on the plight of teachers in America. "The pay gap between teachers and other comparably educated professionals is now the largest on record," the author, Katie Reilly, writes.

Because most teachers worldwide don't get the respect they deserve
Back in 2013, The Global Teacher Status Index tried to uncover how teachers worldwide were perceived. It found that, worldwide, teachers ranked seventh, among 14 top professions—just above social worker and librarians. However, in Asian countries—China, in particular—teachers were considered on par with doctors.

Because there's a global teacher shortage
Around the world, school systems are hungry for qualified teachers. It's true in higher education in India; in rural schools in China—where, in particular, there's a dearth of male teachers; in the U.K. and in the U.S., where the hardest-hit subjects tend to be special education, math and science.

According to UNESCO, some 69 million teachers must be recruited by 2030 to fill the gap in primary and secondary education around the world.

Because teachers spend their own money to educate your children
According to a 2017 survey, already-underpaid teachers in the U.S. are using their own funds to supplement the classroom. One in 10 teachers spends $1,000 or more.

Because teachers work long hours
It's not 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and summers off, as some folks like to assume. The majority of teachers work far longer than the typical 40-hour work week. The same survey showed that 55 percent of teachers worked 50 hours or more per week.

Because teachers wield more influence than you think
Intuitively, we know the power of a good teacher to set a child on a course toward success and, with luck, a lifelong love of learning. One teacher can do that. And studies show that a teacher has two to three times the impact of any other influence at school on student success.

It's time to value those who create such value in our lives: teachers.

World Teacher's Day is celebrated each October 5. UNESCO established the day in 1994 to help raise awareness about the importance of teachers around the world. This year's theme is "The right to education means the right to a qualified teacher."

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