The education system is 'so so broken,' said the fourth-grade elementary school teacher when discussing pay.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on November 15, 2021. It has since been updated
Teachers are always praised for guiding the future children of the world but they remain severely underpaid. Kyle Cohen, a fourth-grade elementary school teacher opened up about teachers' salaries and it's sparking a conversation on the matter. Cohen revealed that he only made an annual salary of $31,000 before taxes in a TikTok video that has since gone viral, launching a fierce debate on the low pay of teachers. The majority felt teachers deserved better pay but a few of them argued that you have to take into account that they work only 8-9 months a year. Cohen then posted a follow-up video breaking down the pay explaining how little he makes on an hourly basis, reported Comicsands.
Cohen explains that people view teachers' working hours as 'class hours' which doesn't paint an accurate picture. Cohen said he usually works 50 hours a week, amounting to roughly 200 hours each month. He then explains that he has to spend at least '40 hours; for lesson planning, parent-teacher conferences, and other after-school events. “This week, for example, it’s 6 o’clock in the evening,” said Cohen in the video. “I have conferences that go until 8 o’clock. I also have conferences next week…”
He then does a rough calculation of the numbers. "Let's just say 240 hours times the 'nine months' that I'm working, right? So 'only' nine months, that's 2,160 hours of work. If I take that $31,000 of salary I earned in my first year of teaching...$31,000 divided by 2,160 hours, that's $14 an hour to be a fourth-grade-classroom teacher," he said. Many were aghast that a teacher was making just $14 before taxes.
Cohen spoke about the issue and added that he always knew what he was getting into. “Teaching is always referred to as being an ‘underpaid job,'” he said. “Family and friends always made comments about the lack of salaries teachers get paid in this country. With that being said, I never allowed these comments to keep me from a field I knew I was meant to be in.”
People commented that teachers deserved better and called for reform. "Oh no, the education system is broken," wrote one person, and Cohen replied, "So. so. broken." One person lashed out at those trying to play down the importance of teachers. "To people who don't think teachers should get paid more, homeschool your kids then. Teachers deserve so much more than what they get," they wrote. One TikTok user pointed out that most teachers worked more than the stipulated eight hours. "Please remember, teachers cannot actually complete their responsibilities in 8 hours a day. Most work 10 hours a day or more," they wrote.
The videos went viral, and now, Cohen is hoping it gets more people talking about teachers' pay and realizing the long-term impact of it. “My hope in making these videos is to start some real conversations,” said Cohen. He added that it wasn't just affecting the teachers but also the students and education in general. “Our teachers — and students — deserve the best, and it is the unfortunate reality that we are far from making this dream a reality.” He often provides insight into his life and especially that of the education industry through his YouTube channel and Instagram. Cohen says the lack of investment in teachers, students, and schools could have long-term consequences. “Students are experiencing more challenges than ever before as a result of the pandemic,” said Cohen. “If we don’t address these issues, it’s the students, our future leaders, who are going to face the consequences.”