As our nation’s future and its most vital resource, children must be given every opportunity to succeed in order to improve their communities when they grow up. Unfortunately, the chances for our youth to bloom are decreasing due to the fact that some of these children’s most paramount influences – their teachers – do not receive fair compensation. An important part of increasing opportunities for children is assuring that their teachers are taken care of well and treated with respect. The 4 percent raise approved just this past spring for teachers in the Ann Arbor school district is well deserved, and hopefully, other school districts will follow suit.

The Ann Arbor News reports that teachers in the Ann Arbor school district will receive a 4 percent raise during the 2003-04 school year followed by a 3.5 percent raise for the 2004-05 year. In comparison, over the past 4 years, the statewide average has been approximately 3 percent a year, according to the Michigan Association of School Boards.

The four percent raise for teachers in the Ann Arbor school district is a positive development and should be a model for teachers all across the state. For many children, teachers are extremely influential in their development, both academically and personally. Teachers deserve to be well compensated for helping to establish solid foundations in the nation’s youth, especially in situations in which the parents do not take active roles in their child’s education and development.

In addition, the raise reaffirms society’s value of the importance of teachers, which must not go unnoticed. Aside from the tremendous influence teachers have on children, the benefits of teaching include cultivating the social attitudes and interests of children. In order to maintain high caliber teachers in the public school system, districts must pay their teachers well. While nobody goes into education to get rich, too many highly motivated and competent people do not enter the profession because the pay is too low.

This pay raise is legitimate for teachers in Ann Arbor, and districts should provide the same wage increase to educators across Michigan, not to mention the country, as essentially all are performing the same job. The general arguments that a city is slightly smaller or does not receive similar per-pupil grants are not justifiable. In regard to the latter point of contention, policymakers should work to correct the funding discrepancy to help bridge the education allowance gap between municipalities.

In nearby Ypsilanti for instance, teachers face tentative contracts and lower pay because the city’s schools do not receive the same level of funding as those in Ann Arbor. The lack of a proper pay raise on top of the current situation adds insult to injury. Concrete contracts and adequate pay raises need to be fairly awarded to teachers so they can disregard such distractions and focus on the sole purpose of molding and preparing the nation’s youth.

Teachers must not be slighted, and their importance must not be overlooked. The 4 percent pay raise for teachers in the Ann Arbor school district is only a minuscule present thanking teachers for the valuable work that they do every day, and teachers everywhere should be given at least the same.

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