The American way of life has been materialistic from the very beginning. The status of a person is determined mainly on economic basis. The same basis is used for teachers also. In the beginning, the teacher had no social status because he was leading his life on a low salary. His services were not given any proper recognition even when he had tolerated economic and social depression patiently.
But by the end of the nineteenth century, there was sufficient progress in the field of education and due to the progressive thinking; attention was paid to the needs, conditions and facilities required by teachers. As a result, the conditions of the teachers began to improve.
In the beginning of the twentieth century, along with educational development, attention was paid to the academic freedom, service security, medical leave, weekly rest day, pension and other facilities for the teachers. The teachers began to be appointed on long-term contracts and gradually the appointments began to be made on permanent basis.
The teachers, to-day is enjoying full facilities and are working in a very satisfactory atmosphere. They have their big associations like the workers in other professions, equipped with all facilities and service security rules.
In U.S.A. the services of the teachers are based on an agreement between the management and the teacher and on the rules framed by the government. In about 45 States of the country, the services of the teachers are quite secure and may be terminated only under special circumstances.
In all the States the services of teachers are permanent and there is one or the other statutory provision for their security of service and other facilities. In about 30 States, there is statutory provision for sickness leave and retirement.
The Federal and State Governments have not prescribed any universal law for the appointment of teachers as in France or Australia. After completing his training, the candidate sends his application to the teacher employment agencies.
The agencies keep a record of the educational qualifications, training, abilities and experience of the teacher on the basis of which they contact the local education control units for their needs and select the teachers according to their demand. In some places, the teachers directly send their application to the local education control units.
These units send their applications to the employment agencies for selection according to their needs. The employment agencies forward the applications according to the need of the units and on the recommendations of the local education superintendent, the local units appoint the teachers. Teacher employment agencies are private, community, governmental and public. Some agencies are governed by teachers’ associations and training institutions.
A; has been discussed, the status of the teachers is determined on the basis of their salary scales. The salary scale of the teachers depends on the economic status of the local bodies. These local bodies prescribe the salary scales of teacher according to their economic condition and need.
The scale of the teachers of rural areas is less than that of the teachers of urban areas. So the teachers of low salary scale migrate to the areas of higher salary scales. Very often, the scale of teacher’s salary is determined on the basis of average State income and the number of children of school going age.
In the salary scale, no importance is attached to the time scale or efficiency bar. Increase in pay depends on the increase in State income. With the increase in State income, the salaries of the teachers are also raised. Most of the expenditure on salaries is met from the funds of the local units.
The minimum salary is always fixed. Accordingly, no teacher of a prescribed qualification, whether of primary or secondary level, can be paid less than a fixed amount of salary. According to rules as existed in the middle of the current century, the prescribed salaries are approximately as under:—
(1) University Chairman and local Education Superintendent – from 12000 dollars to 25,000 dollars per year.
(2) Teachers with post graduate degree – from 5000 dollars to 7000 dollars per year.
(3) Teachers with Bachelors’ degree- from 2400 dollars to 5000 dollars per year.
(4) Teachers with Bachelor’s degrees but having 10 years experience – from 4000 to 5000 dollars per year.
(5) Head of the Department in Universities and Directors – 7000 dollars to 12000 dollars per year.
Besides these salary scales, teachers who retire after serving upto a definite period, are given annual pension also. In places where the minimum scale is not fixed, the average of the annual salary is also different, e.g. in 1950 when the average of annual salary in the whole country was 3010 dollars, in Mission. In 1954, the national average increased and became uniform but he average of salaries at the State level remained different.
Condition of Work for Teachers: American schools have vacations of two days – Saturday and Sunday every week. The session is of 9 months. Working days are between 160 and 200. The teachers are not assigned more than 35 periods in a week. The number of students in the class is usually 25.
After teaching work, the rest of the time is utilised in preparing the class for the next day, coaching of the backward and dull students in order to bring them at par with other students, and other programmes, instructions and guidance.
The teachers try to solve the problems of the students by establishing contact with their parents. Now the post of the teacher is considered honourable and dignified. The teachers take interest in working with young boys and girls and utilise their leisure in social and public relation activities. They exchange views with the honourable members of the society and community on educational problems and projects and organise meetings.
American teachers mainly consist of ladies and young girls. They are occupying higher posts in educational services, outnumbering male teachers. Traditionally, every unmarried girl considers it a privilege to work as a teacher for two years before marriage.
There is no distinction of sex in salary scales and service opportunities. Both get equal honour, status and salary, following the democratic ideals of the country. On the basis of available data in 1949, there were 7, 06,084 women teachers, out of the total number of 8, 78,720 teachers.
Thus the number of women teachers is more than the male teachers. National Association of Education has been organised for teachers of all levels. Fifty per cent teachers are the members of this association. Male and lady teachers of all levels are represented on it.
The function of the Association is to undertake developmental-programmes conforming to the professional and philosophical outlook of teachers. Unions have been organised at different places in order to work for collective progress and security of teachers. A national institution named American Federation of Teachers tries to fulfill its obligation in co-operation with other trade unions.