The Teacher Salary Project

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The Teacher Salary Project:

Our educational system must change. Currently, 30 percent of American students drop out of school by age eighteen. Fewer than 30 percent of all eighth-grade students are proficient in grade-level reading and math. Most significantly, students from urban, financially disadvantaged backgrounds are at a greater risk for decreased cognitive development and ability, lower school attendance, and higher rates of grade failure and early drop-out. And though it is well documented that the most important school-based factor in students' academic achievement and future success is the quality of their teachers, 46 percent of public school teachers leave the profession within the first five years of being in the classroom. A good teacher has the power to change the course of a life—yet because teachers in the United States have historically had an average annual salary lower than their peers with similar educational backgrounds, 62 percent of our nation's teachers must have second jobs outside of the classroom-like tutoring, mowing lawns, selling stereos, or bartending—to be able to afford to teach.

Weaving interviews of policy experts and startling facts with the lives and careers of four teachers, our film, American Teacher, tells the collective story by and about those closest to the issues in our educational system—the 3.2 million teachers who spend every day in classrooms across the country. Through an interactive and evolving website and a feature-length documentary that brings together educational experts, student interviews, and a year of documenting the day-to-day lives and sacrifices of public school teachers, THE TEACHER SALARY PROJECT will bring an awareness to the real and imminent crisis in our educational system—how little we value our strongest, most committed, and most effective teachers, and the ripple effect this has on how our children learn and their potential for future success.

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