Would You Like Fries With That?

According to TeacherPortal (http://www.teacherportal.com/teacher-salaries-by-state/, accessed 3.9.2019), the average starting teacher salary in the United States (with data from 2012-2013) is $35,641.

There is also a movement afoot to raise the minimum wage to $15.00 per hour.  That would translate to a $30,000 a year salary…which is still below what the starting teacher makes.  But…

An education major needs to pass a Praxis I (basic knowledge) and a Praxis II (specialization area) test to gain state certification.  They must also pay for the privilege of taking those tests to be considered for employment in a public school district where state regulations and standards require the creation of curriculum designed to help learners achieve at a proficient level and appropriate for all of the students’ preferred learning style.  They must also come to grips with the special needs of every student, as well as be responsive to parents, maintain an anti-bullying atmosphere, and educate themselves just in case the unthinkable happens to protect children.

Then there’s the additional educational hours and expense required to maintain certification.

But wait – then there’s paying for the four years of college to achieve the diploma.

A starting full-time fast food worker would make almost the same amount of money.  You may also get meals at a reduced price.

If you were a young adult, which path would you choose?

On July 1, 2018, San Francisco was the first U.S. city to raise its minimum wage to $15/hour.

Today, as fewer new cases of the coronavirus are being reported, fast food restaurants still are not open for inside seating, and have limited hours.  “Help Wanted” signs, along with signing bonuses, abound.  These eating establishments are even offering the premium pay that just four years ago, people thought would have an averse affect on a franchise’s ability to be sustainable.  But what the signs don’t say is in many cases, the hourly wage is for part-time work with limited benefits.

Here’s the interesting part: the minimum wage was set to provide workers a “fair wage” for their labor.  Unfortunately, the rallying cry has been that the current minimum wage (if State decides to follow the national guideline) STILL keeps a family in poverty.

But where does it say that the minimum wage is designed for families? It doesn’t.  While some states have enacted higher minimum wage legislation, the current federal law still says minimum wage is $7.25 per hour.  Apply that to both a husband and wife who work, that would bring $14.50 per hour into a household, translating to $29,000 per year, which is slightly above the poverty level for a family of  4, which is currently $26,500 (Source:  https://aspe.hhs.gov/topics/poverty-economic-mobility/poverty-guidelines/prior-hhs-poverty-guidelines-federal-register-references/2021-poverty-guidelines).   Three years ago, $29,000 per year was a little above the poverty level for a family of 5 ($28,410), which has now increased to $31,040.   The minimum wage was not designed for families; it is intended to be for the individual worker.

While it can be argued that the minimum wage needs to change, the conversation also needs to change.  Education provides individuals the opportunity to advance.  The “hope” is that individuals that do so will be able to provide for their families.  The conversation says nothing about being able to raise a family, since, if it did, would mean that the government would have to support the concept of a family…which is something that is constantly being redefined.