America does not pay its educators well.
Teachers in the United States not only earn less than their counterparts in the rest of the world, they are hardly paid enough when compared to other professionals within the country.
For instance, the average salary for a teacher – a profession that requires at least a bachelor’s degree and increasingly a master's degree as well – ranges from $42,578 for an elementary school teacher to $48,235 for a high school special education teacher. Meanwhile, plumbers earn an average salary of $53,820 and respiratory therapists, who are only required to have an associate’s degree, earn $55,870.
In fact, the median annual salary for garbage collectors – a position without educational requirements – is $43,000 per year.
American politicians have been making empty promises to resolve this issue for what seems like forever, but a secretive philanthropist is actually taking steps to help these teachers.
Renowned mathematician and hedge fund legend James Harris Simons has been giving out a heft sum to deserving public school math and science teachers in New York City through his nonprofit organization Math for America.
“We give them extra money, $15,000 a year. We have 800 math and science teachers in New York City in public schools today, as part of a core,” the billionaire founder of Renaissance Technologies explained during an interview. “There's a great morale among them. They're staying in the field. Next year, it'll be 1,000 and that'll be 10 percent of the math and science teachers in New York [City] public schools.”
Simons and his wife Marilyn Simons started the philanthropic organization some 20 years ago with the mission of “making teaching a viable, rewarding, and respected career choice for the best minds in science and mathematics.”
The 77-year-old believes that criticizing bad teachers has created morale problems throughout the education community – particularly in math and science, which is why the nation should focus on celebrating the good ones and giving them the status they deserve.
Perhaps Simons' generous efforts to help these educators will motivate the lawmakers to do the same and provide some relief and benefits to teachers all across the country.