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Should Teacher's salaries be increased?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/2/2008 Category: Education
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 9,616 times Debate No: 5234
Debate Rounds (3)
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Education is a vitally important aspect of any region/nation's continued progress and prosperity. In the United States, there is a discrepency on the amount of pay to the importance of work within the K - 12 Education System.


While I am taking this debate, I am also very much planning on becoming a teacher myself.
However, there is no need to increase the salary of teachers, besides the need to increase everyone's salary over time due to inflation, which we are obviously not talking about.

Why? There are enough prospective teachers already. Not only that, but many of the incentives for becoming a teacher are overlooked. For instance, the Wake County Public School system, my local public school system, pays a base of ~$34,500 to a teacher who only has a bachelor's degree, no board certification, no advanced certification, etc. However, a teacher who's been so for 5 years, has a master's degree, and has board certification will receive a much higher ~$50,000 salary. A teacher of 15 years with those same credentials gets roughly $60,000 per year. Advanced certifications and doctorate certification also increase salary, by roughly $1,500 and $3,000 per year respectively.

Here's the source on that:

So the pay isn't that bad. But we still haven't gotten to the other stuff.
You get a teacher's schedule. That means 90% of the time that if your kids are out of school, you're also not working, making it much easier to plan family vacations and such. And if you don't have kids or don't need to spend time with them, you can work a summer job for some extra cash.

Then there's the benefits, which are pretty standard, but should not be overlooked. Dental insurance, medical insurance, 401k, etc.

Then consider that people actually find their job fulfilling, something most people don't get. That's very important, as far as I'm concerned. Also, your kids can be proud of what you do.

There's also other incentives, given by various businesses. Discounts on entertainment, hotels, car and mortgage loans, rent for apartments, cell phone service, and other things.

This all takes the burden off of the taxpayer to fun ridiculously high salaries.

Then consider too, that teaching is a natural choice for many people, seeing that we grow up around teachers more than any other profession [assuming we go to school, that is]. We already know what to expect from a career in teaching, and this leads to more people wanting to be teachers.

This all is culminated in my final point of the round. There is no shortage of teachers. Perhaps in a few areas there might be, but we're talking overall. The demand and supply for teachers are at equilibrium, so the price should not be changed. All the incentives - the fairly good salary, the standard work benefits, the fact that you can be off work when the kids aren't in school, the fact that you can work a summer job for extra money, the fact that it's a fulfilling job for a lot of people, the fact that businesses offer discounts to teachers, and the fact that many people make it as a 'safe' choice - these all lead to us having enough teachers at the current pay rate. To raise the pay rate would create unemployment, and it is not something we have to do, so why?

You may think teachers deserve more for the very important job they do, but apparently the teachers are alright with what they make, as I think they should be, given all the bonus incentives to be a teacher.
Debate Round No. 1


"There are enough prospective teachers already."

The important point here is that quality is always more important than quantity. Many college students (not all) go into Education as a degree because it is easy to obtain and because (as my opponent points out) an advanced degree is not required. This results in a large number of less educated educators. Raising salaries and education standards would benefit future generations more than the increased cost would hurt the current one.
The goal here is to attract a higher quality educator.

"34,500 to a teacher who only has a bachelor's degree, no board certification, no advanced certification, etc." is sufficient.
"50,000" for a teacher "who's been so for 5 years, has a master's degree, and has board certification" is sufficient.
"15 years with those same credentials gets roughly $60,000 per year" and is sufficient.

I assign a higher level of social importance to the education of our youth than the above mentioned pay grades. More importantly, those salaries will turn away people who would otherwise make excellent educators and push them toward higher paying professions like Law and Medicine to name a few.

1. 90% of the time teachers are not in class they are not working.
2. Teachers "can work a summer job for some extra cash."

1. I challenge my opponent to prove this claim. On what do you base this claim?
2. One possible response is to shorten the summer break period to make up for a discrepency in time worked. Another response might wonder if it should be necessary for a teacher to be forced to 'work a summer job for extra cash'. Such a claim only backs up my point that teachers are not paid enough (if they have to work a summer job).

"consider that people actually find their job fulfilling, something most people don't get. That's very important, as far as I'm concerned. Also, your kids can be proud of what you do."

The obvious response is that pride does not fill a bank account, does it put food on the table, nor does it pay for their child's college tuition.

"There's also other incentives, given by various businesses. Discounts on entertainment, hotels, car and mortgage loans, rent for apartments, cell phone service, and other things."

Again, this does not help their financial situation in any substancial way.

Final Claim:
There is no shortage of teachers.

But there is a shortage of 'good' teachers. This can be seen by U.S. falling behind other industrialized nations in our student test scores.
One analysis of U.S. performance in the TIMSS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study) can be found here:
Here is quick and relevant data on the website for the National Center for Education Statistics:


Indeed, an advanced degree is not needed to become a teacher. However, having a Master's degree gets you a lot more money.

My opponent says that quality is more important than quantity. True in some ways. The only way we're going to get 'better' teachers is by either training them better and using meaningful education standards or by increasing incentives to become a teacher. Increasing incentives to become a teacher, unfortunately, has the nasty side-effect of raising unemployment. For instance, let's say in a certain market there are roughly 1000 teachers and roughly 1000 jobs. That is to say, there are enough teachers, as my opponent has agreed there are. If we raise teachers' pay, we have negative side effects. First, we have to spend more tax money on education, when our budget's already worn pretty thin. Second, that 1000 teachers / 1000 jobs becomes 1200 teachers / 1000 jobs. And as a result, we have people either completely unemployed or working in other jobs, wasting the education they got to become a teacher.
Productivity falls, and our wealth as a nation and our standard of living fall as well.
Or we could just run programs to make sure our teachers are being taught how to teach. We could start up special training programs, or many other things. This would cost tax dollars, but it would probably cost less, be less wasteful, and wouldn't have as many negative side effects.

And as I mentioned, teachers already have large incentives to get advanced degrees [a Master's, at least].

My opponent claims that the pay sclaes I mentioned were insufficient. I disagree wholeheartedly. It doesn't take much to be a teacher. Some of the better math teachers I know aren't even good at math. What matters is that they know how to convey information to the students in an easily digested way. People who are good at that usually have a passion for teaching, and people with a passion for teaching already become teachers a great deal of the time. Geniuses are more well-suited to the fields of Law and Medicine my opponent mentions. With a standardized curriculum, how does being a teacher need extreme intelligence? It does not. Maybe for college professors. But they're already paid quite enough, I hear.

I never claimed that "90% of the time teachers are not in class they are not working." Most teachers have a designated work period during the day, and many grade assignments at night. During summer and most breaks, teachers will spend most of the time doing nothing for work, since they have nothing to grade and no upcoming classes to plan.

As far as the summer job goes, I did not say that teachers NEED to take a summer job to get by. My opponent is straw manning me here. What I said is that since teachers get the summer off, they are able to work the summer if they want. Or they could take it as a big ol' vacation time. My point is, teachers have a huge chunk of the year when they're not even working. $34,500 _starting_ salary isn't that bad, but it's actually pretty good when you consider that it doesn't include any work during the summer.

I said that people find teaching fulfilling, and this is already an incentive for people to become a teacher. My opponent responded by telling me that pride in your work does not put food on the table, etc. So? I never said it did. Is 'food on the table' really all that matters? My opponent's whole argument is that we should increase the incentives for people to become teachers. What I'm saying is that this is one of the many incentives that already exists, and there is already ample incentive.

My opponent says there is a shortage of 'good' teachers, and that htis can be evidenced by the US falling in test scores compared to other nations.

Perhaps it is time I do some teaching of my own.

It cannot be said that the US falling behind in test scores is linked to the quality of the teachers in the US. It could be that Americans in general are getting dumber, and therefore making worse students. It could be that there is a social atmosphere building in the US that makes students think that being studious is uncool. It could be a great many things. It is presumptuous and unwarranted to say that the quality of our teachers must be to blame.

If we look at the situation without assuming one thing or another, as my opponent seemingly did, we see that it's much more likely to be the fault of worse students or a social/cultural atmosphere that is not conducive to thriving education.

Indeed, I challenge you to go to the average American High School. You'll notice a few small groups of studious individuals, but the majority of students just don't want to be there. At least where I'm from, it's not uncommon to see students blatantly disrespecting their teachers simply to look cool. It is the cultural atmosphere that is at fault here, not our teachers. And I'd hardly say teachers have a major influence on the cultural atmosphere these days.

Paying teachers more money will not only cost us more in tax, but it will also siphon intellectuals from fields they are better suited for. Those who are good at teaching already become teachers more often than not. We do not need some guy with 100 degrees who's just there to get a paycheck teaching the new generations. We need people who have a passion for teaching, who are actually there because they care about the kids' future, because they love teaching. Not only that, but teachers are already paid more than enough for the modest amount of work they do, not to mention all the other incentives they have.

With that said, it makes little sense to increase teachers' salaries.
Debate Round No. 2


1. Better education standards for educators is the "only way we're going to get 'better' teachers".
2. A rise in unemployment is not worth the benefits of increased incentives.
3. Our budget is already worn too thin to allow for an increase in teacher salaries.
4. The rise in unemployed teachers will result in decreased productivity, wealth as a nation, and standard of living.
5. It doesn't take much to be a teacher, therefore incentives should not be increased.
6. Teachers do not need a high level of intelligence.
7. Summer and other breaks are sufficient incentives to justify not raising wages.
8. (Comparitively) Low U.S. test scores does not prove a lack of 'good' teachers, listing other possible reasons.
9. Paying teachers more will siphon intellectuals from fields for which they are better suited.

1. Increased education standards for educators is not the 'only' way to get 'better' teachers. Increased pay plays a large role. Increasing the pay will ensure that some would-be high quality teachers are not siphoned off by other professions.

2. A rise in unemployment is worth the increased quality of educators. Teachers that become unemployed would be those of a lesser quality, resulting in an overall better education system.

3. It is my contention that education is more important than many other government funded programs. A simple shift from less important programs (defense spending, legislator pay, etc.) would fund teacher salaries without costing more tax dollars.

4. This claim by my opponent is absurd. A few unemployed teachers will not result in such negative consequences. Those unemployed teachers may be 'better suited' to other professions based on the fact that they did not make the cut.

5. My opponent is correct in stating that it does not take much to be a teacher, but incorrect in his conclusion that that precludes an increase in incentives (particularly pay). He has already claimed that increased education standards for educators is important in attracting higher quality teachers, therefore he has already answered his own question.

6. Of course a high level of intelligence in needed in order to teach. How is an educator going to pass along information and education if he/she is unintelligent? Obviously intelligence is a very important factor in academia.

7. "$34,500 _starting_ salary isn't that bad, but it's actually pretty good when you consider that it doesn't include any work during the summer."
It is a benefit that they do not have to work in the summer, but not one precluding a raise in pay. If anything, this will attract people of a 'lazy' character, since they only have to work 9 months out of the year. Counteracting that with higher pay and increased education standards would weed out those looking for an easier ride.

8. My opponent lists simple conjecture as possible reasons for lower U.S. test scores. In that case, I blame a Giant Spaghetti Monster for stealing the nation's intelligence with his noodly appendages.
The fact of the matter is that students have resisted learning in one form or another throughout history. It is 'good', passionate teachers that convince them otherwise.

9. I will answer this claim once more. Consider that perhaps those fields are siphoning people from teaching, something for which they may be equally suited.

I would like to close by thanking my opponent for his involvement in this debate.


I acknowledged that increased pay also can bring better teachers. However, like I stated, this can bring with it some bad things - first, taxpayers have a higher burden to bear. Second, it attracts people who are just looking for a paycheck, who end up being mediocre teachers.
As I stated, the current system, with mediocre pay, means that most of the people who teach are people who just love teaching. These are the best teachers. I'll take a passionate person who's skilled in conveying information over a guy with 10 advanced degrees any day. As I said, the case is slighlty different for college, but those teachers already get payed a lot, and are already qualified enough for their positions.

A rise in teacher salaries is not worth the unemployment it might bring. That is because the gains are minimal if present at all.

Education is more important than many programs. However, throwing more money into teacher salaries is not going to fix anything. It will simply attract more teachers who are just looking for a paycheck.

Also, if we are to make teacher salaries higher, it would attract more very smart people. People who are suited to do extremely complicated work. Teaching is very simple - the curriculum is standard, you just have to present the information to the students in a way that they will understand. It can sometimes be said that very intelligent people are WORSE at relaying information to an average student base. But they are certainly not better. IT would simply be wasteful to allocate extremely smart people to something as mundane as teaching. Yes, it's extremely important, but it's also not something we need geniuses for. It's like making Einstein into a cop - it's a waste of potential.

People who are passionate and good at teaching are genreally the people who already become teachers. Increased pay would therefore be fruitless.

My opponent suggests that lazy people will likely become teachers due to long summer break. However, increased pay will do nothing to stop this. Being lazy does not mean someone is poorly qualified. A good teacher might also be lazy.

Indeed, I have done some conjecture as to the possible reasons for lower test scores [student motivation, social climate, student intelligence]. My opponent points out that I cannot prove this, and therefore my points are moot. Very well! then my opponent's equally conjecture-filled notion that our test scores are falling due to bad teachers should also be discounted. Indeed, I will agree with my opponent that it is the Flying Spaghetti Monster's fault that our test scores are falling. Paying teachers more will not get rid of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

It's unlikely that a good teacher would become, for instance, a lawyer. Not only is it a lot more work to become a lawyer, but a person who is passionate about teaching will almost always end up teaching. The fields of law and medicine my opponent brings up are good for highly intelligent individuals. Their extremely high intellect would be wasted as a teacher. If we are going to let our productivity fall simply because we want our best minds wasted on public education, what is the point of education in the first place? Is it not to create a productive and successful new generation? Why would we waste the most productive members of society then, on a job like teaching, that only requires an average person?
Debate Round No. 3
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