There is a pervasive narrative that exhausted mothers everywhere share regarding the unbalanced burden of responsibilities they carry in and around the home. In fact, with the recent release of Encanto, moms everywhere clung to Luisa, the Madrigal family’s eldest child gifted with the power of super-strength who feels crushed by the weight of her responsibilities.  

I buy into this comparison as an absolutely exhausted working mother myself, but I’ll raise you one more. Teachers, bending and breaking under the ever-mounting pressures of educating children, are the metaphorical Luisa of the professional world. Over the past two years alone, teachers have been tasked with their own survival, and the survival of their student charges amidst a global pandemic. Teachers have served on the front lines as counselors, confidants, and emotional sounding boards (and sometimes punching bags) as the mental health status of our children, impacted by very real trauma, became an actual crisis. They have been responsible for adapting to constant changes and interruptions in their delivery of education all while working to prevent staggering losses in their students’ academic growth. AND, all of this is atop the regular workload and responsibility list teachers balance daily. 

It’s pressure like a drip, drip, drip, that’ll never stop, whoa

Pressure that’ll tip, tip, tip, ’til you just go pop, whoa-oh-oh

And yet, “the wage gap between teachers and the rest of the comparably educated workforce was about 21% in 2018. That disparity was a much smaller 6% back in 1996” (Axios reporting on Economic Policy Institute data.) Highly educated + under compensated = a recipe for disaster.

Given this, is anyone actually surprised by the recent survey data from the NEA stating that 55% of educators are considering exiting the profession earlier than they had intended? Teachers, in all their glory of infinite enthusiasm and creativity, are ready to pop. 

There comes a time when our society has to reinvent the structures and systems it built to educate our youth and that time is now. What worked for schooling two hundred years ago is not the most effective solution today and perpetuating such a rigid, inflexible education model is destroying the mental health of those on whom we deeply depend.  After the past two years of trauma, radical reformation is needed. 

As a starting point, let’s #payteachersmore. Why? Because learning can’t wait and teacher Luisa needs a raise.

Hayley Spira-Bauer is a New York State certified teacher and currently serves as the Chief Academic Officer of iTutor.com and host of the Learning Can’t Wait Podcast.

Watch current and past episodes of the Learning Can’t Wait Podcast at LearningCantWait.com/Podcast.