Close the Gap: Students Advocating For Higher Teacher Wages

A student-organized town-hall campaign to close the teacher wage gap, especially in underserved communities.

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908-839-2559 20 Grant Way, Princeton, NJ, 08540

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The project is still in ideation, but will be launched through the organization Redefy. @weredefy on Instagram, Twitter, FB

Date You Started Your Project Started


Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Idea (hoping to get started in the future)

1. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

Society does not pay teachers what they are worth. We collectively agree that teachers are crucial to the strength of our nation, yet teaching is one of the most underpaid professions. In underserved areas like inner cities, this inequity perpetuates other imbalances of power such as race and socioeconomic status of students. Without quality education, we are failing the next generation of learners to face an ever-complex world.

2. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

We want to involve students in the fight to close the teacher pay gap, since students are directly impacted by this issue. While teacher strikes are happening across the nation, we think that youth-driven organizing can do lengths in bringing attention to the pay gap and mobilize our nation and world to change it. By calling upon the established youth web of Redefy and other organizations, the power of social media, and the interconnectedness of Generation Z, we will locate regional organizers in the most educationally underserved communities across our nation. We want to create a series of youth-organized town halls across our countries in the cities where the teacher pay gap is most evident and the quality of public education for students is distinctly unequal to the rest of the nation. These would feature the voices of union reps, students, teachers, state and elected officials, and school board members, and balance the conversation with one student moderator and one teacher moderator. Our campaign would create one set of predetermined topics/questions to discuss during the town hall and aid our regional organizer in creating a second set of community-specific topics.

3. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project?

It is blatant that inequality racks our education system, from who receives the best education, to what schools receive the most funding, to which colleges and which careers students end up in. Education should be the great equalizer in this country, yet pay gaps, negligence, and undervalued service cause schools to sometimes perpetuate the inequity that kids are born into. Redefy is an organization that recognizes the power of youth and the necessity of including young people at the table. Not only are youth the most affected by the teacher wage gap, but we also have the greatest power to make a difference on this matter. We are taught and molded by our teachers every day, and many have the capacity to radically change the courses of our lives for the better. It's time that we give back to our communities and our teachers by doing our civic duty to change what is unjust.

4. Selfie Elevator Pitch: Include 1-minute video that answers the following “I am stepping up to make change because...”

5. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.

When a person from an underserved community wants to get involved, we will have a series of calls with them to plan and coordinate a town hall in their community. This will include building a coalition of stakeholders across different sectors (teachers, students, union reps, school board members), setting a date, place, and time, and creating an organized agenda and schedule for the town hall. This will likely be a timeline of a 2-4 months due to the outreach, strategy, and planning necessary. Additionally, we may try to record or livestream the event to illuminate the issue to more people and inspire more change across the nation. With consistent calls to our regional rep to keep them on target, we at Redefy will make sure that everything is in order for the night of the town hall.

6. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

This is a movement. We believe that for change to happen on a broad level, we need to be activating young people who are doing grassroots work through education and empowerment. It is through scale that we will generate change: hundreds of young people, starting hundreds of discussions on teacher pay, activating hundreds of communities worldwide. Because young people get each other and understand this new generation of digital communication, this approach is effective. We're driven by the motivation to better education across this country.

7. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

Our project is at idea-stage, but we hope to track town-hall attendance, student opinion surveys, and follow-through of change on the issue. We will be in constant communication with all parties in regard to the town halls, so we will receive indication on any change happening. Ultimately, we hope this stirs communities, board, and schools to re-evaluate teacher salaries and implement policies which aid in closing the pay gap as well as generate national buzz around the topic so that, especially with the upcoming elections, the wage gap is an addressed, mainstream issue.

8. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

The next stage is turning this idea into a reality by reaching out to students who are interested in spearheading this change in their communities.

9. Which of the following types of expertise would be most useful for you?

  • Project Plan & Strategy

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 2 [optional] Do you identify as part of any of the following underrepresented communities?

  • Communities of color
  • LGBTQ community
  • Religious minority (non-Christian)

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Ashoka page or contact


Join the conversation:

Photo of Bhargavi Garimella

this is such a fantastic idea! the movement for education funding/teacher salaries desperately needs the power of student voices

Photo of Julia

Thank you so much for the encouraging words. We totally agree!

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