Paige W. Indiana

Pay Inequality for Special Education Teachers

A look at how special education teachers need equal pay.

Dear President,

Everyday students go to school ready to learn new things. For some students going to school and learning is a lot harder than it is for others. Some students may have learning disabilities or other issues that affect their learning. In 2013-2014, the number of children and youth ages 3-21 receiving special education services was 6.5 million, or about 13% of all public school students. My brother happens to be one of those students receiving extra help with his learning. He has a nonverbal learning disability that makes it harder for him to read and write. At home he needs a lot of extra help with his homework and we have to take time to help him fully understand what he is trying to learn. I will be completely honest and say most of the time I lose patience with him and can’t fully help him the way he needs. I can’t imagine the patience his teachers have to have with him. He can take care of himself and do everything by himself but some students aren’t like that. They may need help making it from one place to another or even going to the restroom. Their teachers do quite a bit of work with them and also for them throughout the day.

Regular high school teachers make on average $45,600 while special education teachers, on average, make only $43,000. Why is there such a difference between the two salaries? Imagine if you were doing the same amount of work as someone else or even more work but you were being paid less. How happy would you be about it? Teachers aren’t going to stay at their job if they know they could be making better money doing something else. For the past 6 years, there has been a creation of 10,000 new special education teacher positions. This isn’t fair to the teachers who think they need to go somewhere else due to lack of pay, but it is also unfair to students like my brother. Students like him need more help than the average student but how is he going to get that help if all the teachers are leaving? It isn’t possible to give the students the help they need if there is a lack of special education teachers.

This is a real issue concerning the education of these students. What if one of your children needed special education but there just weren’t enough teachers to give them the help they need? Special education teachers should get paid the same amount as a regular teacher or possibly a little more. The amount of work they do for students every day is incredible and I truly can appreciate all the time and patience they have given students such as my brother.

Best of luck,