As a graduate of an Islamic school, I understand the importance of children growing up in a safe and nurturing Islamic environment. Yes, Islamic schools has its advantages as well as disadvantages, which I will save for another piece, but one huge downfall of Islamic schools is extremely low salary for teachers.
Teachers overall are underpaid and overworked, but especially Islamic school teachers.
Teachers in private schools earn less than public school teachers. The national average salary for a K-12 teacher is around $53,000. Of course it varies depending on the state, experience and education. The average for private school teachers is around $40,000.
From my research, experience, and talking to Islamic school teachers, Islamic school usually teachers make much less than $40,000 a year.
The average cost of living for a married couple with one child is around $56,000. So if a teacher makes $20,000 (which isn’t unheard of), it’s impossible to live on that one income.
So if both parents work, then day care is another issue, and let me tell you, day cares are not cheap!
You then have highly qualified, excellent Muslim teachers who want to work at an Islamic school to give back to their community, but simply cannot due to the salary and lack of benefits.
Therefore, Islamic schools face the dilemma of hiring other teachers: qualified teachers who are not Muslims and can’t find other teaching positions because they’re all filled or hiring unqualified Muslim teachers.
There are disadvantages to both. Many parents take their kids to Islamic schools because they want their kids to have Muslim teachers who are qualified to teach in a safe and nurturing, Islamic environment.
After completing my master’s degree in Education a couple of years ago, I became critical of many educational institutes and choosing a preschool for my daughter was a challenging one.
I truly believe that if an employee is paid sufficiently and love what they do, then they will excel at their job with high quality work and become more productive. When teachers are overworked and extremely underpaid, they become unmotivated and stressed out. In a report from American Psychological Association, 72 percent people felt stressed in regards to money.
Using the phrase “teach for the sake of Allah” by accepting a very low salary and overworking is detrimental and unfair.
Using God as an excuse to pay your teachers poorly isn’t working for us like it did for the older generation. We earned our education degrees and certificates and we demand to be paid fairly for our hard work, dedication and time.
Yes, everything we do should be for the sake of Allah, but teachers are superheroes who literally change lives. Islamic school teachers spend most of the day with your children teaching them, plus enforcing Islamic etiquette and manners and are role models for your children.
Not to mention that 92 percent of teachers pay for supplies out of their own pockets, which is absurd. Do we ask doctors to buy their own syringes and medical supplies for their patients?
An organization named Teacher Salary Project hopes to double teachers’ pay and I hope Islamic Schools take part in. I’ve seen way too many qualified, talented Muslim teachers steer away from teaching at Islamic schools because of the extremely low salary, and I don’t blame them. Using God as an excuse to pay your teachers poorly isn’t working for us like it did for the older generation. We earned our education degrees and certificates and we demand to be paid fairly for our hard work, dedication and time.
Islamic tradition values teachers and encourages us to treat them with the utmost respect.
The Prophet (PBUH) said:
and the Prophet (PBUH) said:
When teachers are paid minimum wage, what are we telling students? That teachers are undervalued and don’t deserve to earn more? There’s nothing wrong with working at McDonald’s but many Islamic school teachers earn the same as a fast food worker.
Think about that. It could be your student’s teacher. The teacher who spends eight hours a day with your child. The teacher who often does need to work a second job to live comfortably. Teachers deserve better.
I understand that Islamic schools have minimum funding from the state and many keep their tuition at a fair rate so that many students from various backgrounds can enroll.
But if we want to keep our precious teachers, then this is a serious issue that needs to be looked into by administrators and board members.
Islamic school teachers, best of luck this year and I pray that it is an excellent and blessed year for you all. Oh, and ask your administrators for raises. Because you know you damn well deserve it.