One thing that has remained constant for decades is society’s need for quality education. With that need comes a high demand for teachers, especially in elementary schools where retaining minimal class sizes is a vital concern.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for elementary school teachers will grow 12.3% between 2014 and 2024, an increase of over 188,000 jobs. Increased mobility, competitive salary and benefit packages, and continuing education opportunities are just some of the benefits that come from a thriving employment environment.
Although teaching is not necessarily a top-tier job as far as salary, it is considered one of the best jobs as far as enjoyment and fulfillment. According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, teaching is one of the 10 best social service jobs available. People who choose this profession generally have an innate need to make a difference.
Nelson Mandela once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” In particular, early learning education has been shown to be a vital component of success. According to studies conducted by agencies like the National Association for the Education of Young People (NAEYC), a child’s earliest years of development are the most critical. In fact, the NAEYC states that for every $1 invested in quality early education, up to $13 is saved in future costs to society. These kinds of figures illustrate the importance of early education and society’s obligation to fund it.
As previously stated, the demand for teachers, especially elementary, is projected to increase over the next ten years. Of particular demand will be special education and minority teachers. As the nation continues to become more diversified, teachers of all races and nationalities, as well as educators who are bi-lingual, will become increasingly important. As a result, specialized teachers will experience a marked increase in benefits as the demand for their skills surge. Overall, elementary teachers can expect more diversified benefits packages as new jobs emerge in the employment market.
Supply and demand drive the employment sector. As a result, more jobs and fewer teachers will lead to an increase in overall benefits packages. This does not always simply mean higher salaries, although that will continue to be the way many teachers are successfully recruited. Other benefits can be as, if not more, important as young teachers emerge in the work force. These benefits may include:
- Tuition reimbursement for continuing education
- Student loan forgiveness
- Signing and performance bonuses
- Better health care programs
- Increased pensions
Although these benefits are important as teachers try to support and protect themselves in an increasingly unstable economy, one of the biggest benefits teachers will continue to receive are the feelings of significance and fulfillment that accompany the profession. As Henry Brooks Adams said, “A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.” Teachers teach because they are called to the profession. As a result, the job itself often provides intangible benefits that cannot be included in any package. In addition, the increased demand for quality teachers will lead to a level of job security that is enjoyed by very few other professions. There will always be educational needs, which means there will always be a demand for teachers. As more and more importance is placed on early education, that demand will increase even more.
The Importance of Early Education:
Studies conducted by the NAEYC have shown that several benefits are associated with quality early education. Among these are:
- Greater likelihood of graduating from high school
- Decrease in behavior problems throughout a child’s school career
- Decreased likelihood of criminal activity in later years
- Longer attention spans and overall better retention of information
- Improved social skills
- Decrease in the need for special education programs later in school
- Overall increased grades
These benefits underscore the need for focused attention on providing all children with the educational start they need. Continual funding for early childhood education is vital to the development of intelligent, socially competent individuals. This funding will continue to provide job security for elementary teachers. According to the National Education Association (NEA), President Obama’s recently released budget proposal for FY2015 includes a 1.9 percent increase for education from the FY2014 level passed by Congress. In addition, the budget requests a fully paid for, $56 billion Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative over and above the FY15 funding levels. Split evenly between defense and non-defense discretionary (NDD) funding, and to be funded with a proposed balanced package of spending cuts and closed tax loopholes, the additional $28 billion for NDD would help ease the damage of sequestration, as well as provide funding for other priorities such as early childhood education.