The Blog

How Investing in Teachers Today Makes for a Better Georgia Tomorrow

Posted on February 24, 2019

By: Michael Head

An excellent teacher can alter the course of any child’s life.  The wisdom teachers give to their students stays with them over the course of their lives, and helps them solve problems in their community. Therefore, it is vital for states like Georgia to equip teachers with everything they need to succeed. When a teacher succeeds in the classroom they create children that are prepared to help their communities reach their full potential. So how well is Georgia taking care of its teachers?  

According to an interview in the AJC, John Palmer, a teacher in the Cobb County school system, says that teachers have not received a pay raise in over a decade. Raises, however, may be just around the corner for teachers in Georgia, and that could have a positive impact on Georgia’s economy in the long run.

To what extent do teachers affect their students’ future earnings?  In 2011, economist Eric Hanushek reported after controlling for all factors other than teaching, a great teacher could “…shift earnings up by more than $400,000” for their students in their future careers. A child’s success in the classroom in primary education increases their likelihood of attending a university; this subsequent education and training can increase their earnings by more than $400,000. By building a higher educated workforce, states like Georgia can attract high paying jobs in technology fields, healthcare, and even the film industry.  With more high paying specialized jobs the GDP of Georgia increases creating a better place to live for the people of Georgia.

The best way to retain and attract great teachers is to give them higher wages and more resources.  Georgia currently ranks 26th in the nation for teachers’ salaries. By raising teachers’ wages, Georgia could be more competitive in attracting top educators from around the nation and give a raise to the current teachers of Georgia.  There is even evidence to suggest that paying teachers more increases test scores for students according to an Education Next study in 2015. This is because, with higher salaries, teachers are focused more on their job and less on financial worries. An increase in teacher wages also creates incentive to join the field. College students are currently turning away from the field due to low wages, but more competitive pay could increase the number of teachers in the industry.

Furthermore, giving adequate resources to teachers is vital for their success.  Scott Allen, a Latin teacher at Grady High School, told the AJC in an interview this past year that one of the keys to doing his job successfully is resources, such as new textbooks and technology.  Many teachers use their own money to gather supplies for their students such as pencils and pens. If Georgia wants to remain competitive with other states’ education systems, giving more money to schools for new technologies is essential. Giving teachers the resources in the classroom and wages to compete with the rest of the nation may be the solution to improving Georgia’s education system and economy.

There is a proposal to raise teachers’ salaries this year in Georgia, which could be a good first step in retaining and attracting teachers.  Governor Kemp has called for a $3,000 raise for teachers to stop the current problem of teacher retention. Currently, according to governor Kemp, 44% of teachers leave the profession within five years of starting their job. This is mostly due to higher salaries in private practices and other fields outside of teaching that pull them away.  This $3,000 raise would help retain current teachers as well as pull more teachers to the profession.

It is easy to explain how important teachers are to both Georgia’s youth and economy. A raise for teachers would be the first step in solving many of Georgia’s problems. This bump in teacher wages could advance both the education system and economy of Georgia. Higher paid teachers would result in better education, more teachers, and a cash injection to the nation’s GDP. Therefore, to give Georgia the best chance of economic growth tomorrow the state should invest in its teachers today.        

Frohlich, Thomas C. “Teacher Pay: States Where Educators Are Paid the Most and Least.” USA Today, Gannett Satellite Information Network, 17 Oct. 2018, www.usatoday.com/story/money/careers/2018/05/16/states-where-teachers-paid-most-and-least/34964975/.

Hanushek, Eric. “Valuing Teachers: How Much Is a Good Teacher Worth?” Why the Federal Government Should Be Involved in School Accountability | Eric A. Hanushek, hanushek.stanford.edu/publications/valuing-teachers-how-much-good-teacher-worth.

Rice, Mark, and Maggie Lee. “Big Teacher Raises on Tap for Georgia, but Will It Stop People from Quitting the Job?” Ledger-Enquirer, Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, 19 Jan. 2019, www.ledger-enquirer.com/news/local/education/article224708050.html.

Salzer, James. “Kemp Calls for $3,000 Teacher Raise, 2 Percent for Georgia Employees.” Ajc, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 17 Jan. 2019, www.ajc.com/news/state–regional-govt–politics/kemp-calls-for-000-teacher-raise-percent-for-georgia-employees/VhoSZPdQaWVW7vDd5Hz0ZP/.

Salzer, James. “Kemp Calls for $3,000 Teacher Raise, 2 Percent for Georgia Employees.” Ajc, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 17 Jan. 2019, www.ajc.com/news/state–regional-govt–politics/kemp-calls-for-000-teacher-raise-percent-for-georgia-employees/VhoSZPdQaWVW7vDd5Hz0ZP/.

Staff, Study International. “Want Students to Perform Better? Ensure Teachers Are Better Paid.” Study International, Https://Www.facebook.com/Studyinternational.co.uk, 21 Feb. 2019, www.studyinternational.com/news/want-students-to-perform-better-ensure-teachers-are-better-paid/.