Becoming a Teacher in Utah

Meya Smith , Co Editor-in-Chief

It is commonly thought that educational schooling has been around since the beginning of time. However, education in the United States wasn’t established until the seventeenth century and was mostly religion oriented. In the beginning, school responsiblities were that of the federal governent. Paul Eggen and Don Kauchak, authors of Introduction to Education claimed that It wasn’t until the Early National Period (1775-1820) that the “Constitution [written in 1787 and adopted in 1789] removed formal religion from schools and established state responsibility in education.” The Tenth Amendment “said that areas not explicitly assigned to the federal government would be the responsibility of each state.” This means that standards, accountability, and tests within education are decisions to be made by the state. With that being said, Utah has their own standards for attaining a licensure as well as ideas for reform that are unique to the state.

In Utah, a teacher is first required to achieve a bachelor’s degree. Of course, teachers can and are envouraged to further pursue a higher career there after. In fact, most often, as with other professions, with more education comes a higher salary. Aspiring teachers will also have to complete an education or licensure program, and  pass the required content exams.

There are essentially three levels of licesnure. The initial certificate that teachers receive after completing a bachelor’s degree and passing the Praxis Subject Assessments is issued after the teacher recieves a reccomendation from “an accredited institution,” as said on the Utah TeacherCertification Resource site.  Teachers with a level one certificate will also complete the Entry Years Enhancement program (EYE). After completeing the EYE program, teachers will recieve a reccomendation from the school district they were teaching in, or the teacher who had been mentoring with to recieve a level two certificate. With all of this being said, these are general steps to becoming a teacher.

In the Salt Lake City School District, the salary schedule for the 2018-19 school year shows that when a teacher enters their first year of teaching with a bachelor’s degree and certification, they will be paid a salary of  $41, 001. As teachers acquire more years within the same school district, they will in turn acquire a higher salary. Also, salary schedules are revised each year. The beginning salary is currently considered to be low, especially considering the out-of-pocket costs to teachers as well as the high amount of time teachers spend outside of the class rooms towards their career. To combat this, it is sometimes advised that aspiring teachers wait until they recieve their master’s degree to begin their teaching career. Further, question one on the upcoming ballot in November is asking to raise gas tax by $0.10 and take the income from the tax raise and allow it to go towards public school funding. This means that it could go towards funding for new resources or towards teacher salary. Those who oppose this question, such as Renee Dale a woman living in Glendale who has a history in the Westminster administration office, worry that even though the plan is for the added income to go towards pubilc education, the government may use the money for other things such as road work in higher class neighborhoods.

A big reason why there is a deficit for teachers in America is due to the salary which in turn seems to make the career choice seem as if it is not a true profession. Ms. Wilson, an English teacher at East High, disagrees, “teaching should be considered a profession by the masses because there is an art to teaching. It is not simply a regurgitation of information.”  The fifth edition of Introduction to Teaching; Becoming a Professional finds that teachers must constantly make split-second decisions because the classroom has a lot going besides the actual lesson being taught. For example, while a teacher is teaching, a student may ask to use the restroom, there are side conversations, and in today’s classrooms, phones are a constant distraction. Because of this, teachers must decide quickly how to respond to these destractions whithout losing focus with the rest of the class. Also, teachers require constant reflection. By making so many quick decisions, teachers are bound to make mistakes. If a teacher is in a situation where two students are fighting, the teacher must decide if he or she will punish the students, make them resolve their issue within the class period, and so on. However, the tacher must also keep in mind how his or her response will affect the students; will the students feel embarrassed and no longer confide or work with the teacher, or will the students further distract their peers. There are many other focuses in the profession, which makes the career difficult and is truly underestimated and unappreciated.

With so many cons in the profession, it may be hard to understand why anyone would want to become a teacher. The Introduction to Education textbook includes results from a “This I Believe”survey which have found that the top reasons people want to be a teacher is because they expect it to be rewarding in the sense that they are contributing to their society and they are able to work with youth. Further, they find that they have job security and great benefits. Teachers from East high claim the most rewarding part about teaching is,  “Watching students have light bulb moments where their interests are sparked and they truly want to learn more” as said by Cate Praggastis, AVID teacher.



How can this generation allow for growth in this field, though? First, the youth need to understand the power of their vote and they must work towards putting those with similar thoughts and opinions in powerful positions in order to best represent our wants and desires. Also, we must find ways to funnel more funding into education as a whole. By receiving more funding, not only will the teachers become better prepared, but also students will recieve a better education and thus society will profit for being better educated.