All of us have bragged about the great teachers we have had who have helped us along in life, but not every teacher is wonderful. Some teachers just don't strive to improve and help kids. According to About Education, ineffective teachers share similar characteristics. They lack the ability to manage their classrooms. If they can't control the students in their classrooms, they won't be able to teach them effectively. Poor teachers lack real content knowledge. They will quickly lose credibility with their students if they do not know what they are teaching, making them instantly ineffective. Lack of motivation, where teachers do not challenge or stay engaged with their students, is an issue. Lack of organizational skills will quickly make a teacher unproductive and overwhelmed. And poor people skills, which effect students, parents, other staff members and administrators, can quickly become the downfall of a teacher.
On the other hand, greatly effective teachers love to teach and have a passion for teaching young people. Effective teachers demonstrate a caring attitude, can relate to their students one on one, think outside the box, are willing to be creative and adaptive to individual needs, are proactive rather than reactive, are excellent communicators to everyone who surrounds a student, and challenges their students to do better.
In today's America, why would anyone ever want to become a teacher? The budgets for our classrooms dwindle each year, and teachers continue to take money out of their own pockets to provide their students with supplies. The schools are getting older, and fewer new schools are being built annually. Based on the school shootings over the last few years, teachers must now worry every day about the security of their students and themselves. Who would want to work in this tough environment?
But, dealing with all these issues, these teachers continue to inspire and new idealist college graduates are joining their ranks. This year 284,000 new teachers joined public schools, compared to 222,000 a decade ago according to the National Center for Educational Statistics. Public schools employed 3.1 million teachers this year, putting the average pupil to teacher ratio at 16 to 1, which is the same as it was in 2000. Public school expenditures this year were $634 billion. This works out to $12,605 for each student. The overall average of high school dropouts is 6.8%, which is a welcomed decline from the 10.9% in 2000. The percentage of students enrolling in college in the fall immediately following high school completion is 65.9%, when back in 1976 it was 48.8%. Looking at the decline in dropouts and the increase in kids starting a college career, our current crop of teachers must be doing something right.
It does pay to stay in school. Today's working adults aged 25 to 34 with a bachelor's degree earn around $46,900, while those with an associate's degree earn around $35,700. High school graduates earn around $30,000, and the median is $22,900 for those without a high school diploma.
The fact that the United States is ranked the fourteenth best educational country in the world, according to Pearson, is a real wake-up call for all of us. South Korea is ranked first, followed by Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Finland, the United Kingdom and Canada. Pearson found the top-ranked countries offer teachers higher status in society and have a culture emphasizing education. Society's attitude about education and its underlying moral purpose seems to be stronger in the top-rated countries. And to think that just three decades ago the U.S. was ranked first in the world.
It continues to amaze me that people want to become teachers. New teachers make around $36,000 and can earn $58,000 after 20 years, so striking it rich does not seem to be the reason to pursue this noble career. These teachers have a spirit that the rest of us just don't possess. This school year, teachers took an average of $513 out of their own pockets for classroom supplies, food for hungry kids in their classes, instructional materials and books for their students. So we are asking our honorable teachers to perform this self-sacrificing act of reaching deep into their own pockets to help solve what is the responsibility of all of us.
It is up to concerned citizens and parents to make a difference for our kids and give teachers more help. The National Teacher Assistance Organization gathers donations from you and me for professional assistance to teachers. At Donors Choose, public school teachers post classroom project requests, and you can donate to the project that most inspires you. At Class Wish, you can help fund any teacher in the country. And at DollarDays through the contest on our Facebook page, we are giving away $5,000 worth of products to help teachers across this great country. Please nominate your favorite teacher for this giveaway!
It takes an entire village to bring quality education to the next generation. Our teachers care about their students, they care about their neighborhoods and they want to mold our kids into adults who care about our community. Great teachers start to move the minds of their students along the path of knowledge, preparing them for the journey of life and propelling them into the future of adulthood. Now that teachers are finishing up this school year and preparing for the next, it is up to our legislatures, our community leaders, parents and ordinary citizens to support all of our kids before it is too late. Our teachers have the compassion and willingness to bring our kids back into the top ten rated countries in the world. But it is up to the rest of us to realize that a highly educated society means success and prosperity for all of us.