Teacher Realizes Her Salary Is So Low The Only Way She Can Continue Working Is By Going Into Debt

Being a teacher is actually costing her more than it's paying.

stressed teacher wearing glasses pixelshot / Canva Pro

With the inflation of recent years amid decades of wage stagnation, most of us besides the lucky few are feeling the pinch in our pocketbooks. 

For many teachers though, it's on a whole other level. One teacher recently shared how the situation was so dire, that her paychecks were working in reverse.

After doing the math, she realized that her teacher's salary was putting her into debt.

The problem of punishingly low pay for teachers in America is certainly nothing new.


It's among the myriad factors that have been fueling a nationwide teacher shortage for years now, long before the pandemic kicked the shortage into a full-blown crisis.

Teacher and TikToker Lexie Firment's story is a perfect example of the uphill battle teachers are facing to simply survive financially in today's economy. She recently did the math on her salary and monthly liabilities and found that continuing her teaching career was completely unsustainable.


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Firment's low teacher's salary covers only her housing and transportation, and she pays for everything else with savings.

"I'm a teacher and I can barely afford to pay rent with my salary," Firment said in her TikTok. "My salary … is basically my rent minus $500."



But of course, there is so much more to funding a life than just rent, and that $500 leftover vanishes in the blink of an eye.


"Guess how much my car is? $400. Guess how much insurance is? $100," Firment went on to say. "That's not even with groceries," she added. "I'm actually left owing money at the end of the month."

In order to buy food and pay other bills, Firment realized, "Every single month I am transferring money out of savings into my checking." This led to a shocking financial reality. Her teacher's salary was so low it was going to put her into debt. " Wow. I'm, like, literally having a crisis right now," she said. "I can't do this. I literally cannot do this."

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Low teacher salaries, coupled with inflation, have turned America's teacher shortage into a full-blown crisis.

The American education system has suffered from a lack of teachers and high turnover rates for years, in part due to low pay. 


Prior to 2020, teacher turnover averaged 16% each school year. Exact statistics are hard to pin down because the federal government does not track teacher turnover. But independent studies found that in many parts of the country, teacher turnover spiked roughly 2% higher each school year since 2020, and spiked to the highest level in five years in 2022. 

Pay was routinely cited as a major factor in teacher turnover in studies of the subject, and a report from the Economic Policy Institute helped illustrate why. It found that teachers earned 26.4% less than other comparable college graduates.


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And like all of us, inflation is hugely escalating this problem. The soaring housing market, for example, is pricing teachers out of areas where they work, which has in turn made many teachers' commuting costs skyrocket. And an analysis by real estate sales and research company Redfin found that inflation means teachers are making on average $3644 less now than they were 10 years ago. 


Thankfully, both wage stagnation and inflation have begun to abate. But the changes have mostly benefited the top 10% of earners, not the paycheck-to-paycheck workers, like teachers and so many others, who desperately need more income. 

Given these trends, it's hard to imagine America's teaching shortage reversing itself any time soon, especially since so many of our politicians have focused their education policy efforts on banning books and regulating the private affairs of LGBTQ+ faculty and students. 

Here's hoping the 2024 election will provide a realignment of political power when it comes to our schools because our education systems desperately need leadership. 


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John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice, and human interest topics.