Do you deserve more money?  Sure, we all do.  But try telling your boss that.  I mean, have you ever thought about just marching into your bosses office and pounding your fist on the desk, and demanding a raise?  I really never understood how that was supposed to work.




As pathetic as that sounds, that’s probably exactly what would happen.  That is — if he didn’t fire me first.  How can people ever make more money if the boss can just say no?  Maybe some bosses are just pushovers, and give people raises whenever they ask for it.  But most bosses would rather pay their employees as little as humanly possible.

As a teacher, we get our raises differently than the rest of society, so it’s hard to remember how it works in the real world.  Teachers all get the same pay.  About $42,000 a year, for a brand new starting teacher in Hawaii.  We can get a raise if we’ve worked for many years, or if we take classes.  Taking classes bumps you up the pay scale automatically.  It’s pretty simple.  Some states have different systems, but it’s basically the same.  You just climb up the ladder until you get to the top.  Usually, it has nothing to do with how you perform in the classroom.

But how do they do it in the real world?

In the real world, if your boss has a low opinion of you, he can just pay you less.  No questions asked.  Let’s say he doesn’t like the way you dress, or the way you walk.  He doesn’t like your tie.  So he can just hire and fire anybody he chooses.  He could give everybody a pay cut, and just give raises to all his friends.  Sometimes bosses actually do that.

It’s sad, but in the real world, the boss is king.  So you would think that you have to be really aggressive, and bully him for a raise.  But that doesn’t usually work.  In the real world, the secret to getting a raise is simple: do your job well.

At my school, I’m a well liked teacher.  I don’t mean to brag, but I’m a real asset to our school.  My bosses like me, and the parents like me.  I could use a raise.

The school down the street doesn’t have a music teacher.  They always ask, “How come you get a music teacher, and we don’t?”  Some teachers from the other school beg me to go to their school instead.  But of course, why should I, when the pay is the same?

But what if they could offer me more money?  What if the school down the street wanted me so bad, that they were willing to pay me $500 more a year?  Huh.  I might have to think about that.  $500 more . . . it’s not that much more, but it’s still something!  Sure, I’d be leaving my job, but I could really use a new X-Box!

So I’d go to my principal and inform him that I’d be leaving to the school down the street for $500 more.  I just got a raise!

But now, what if my principal really wanted me to stay?  What if he said, “No, we want you here, and we’re willing to pay you more!” Let’s say he offered $1000 more.  Then I would stay.

That’s how raises work.

My pay would raise to what I was actually worth to the school.  In this way, teachers could make a lot of money.  Perhaps $50,000.  Maybe $60,000.  It’s not unfathomable to imagine a really good teacher making $100,000.  If a teacher was really some sort of wiz, that helped all her students pass, maybe she would be worth the price of two teachers put together.

I just don’t understand why so many teachers support the current system of begging the state to raise everybody’s pay.  In every school I’ve worked at, there’s been pay freezes, and pay cuts.  It always seems like they try to pay us all less.  Don’t teachers want to get paid more?  Maybe the solution is to support a different kind of system.  A free market system.  Then, the good teachers could all be getting raises!