It Ain’t About the Money!

Among the various political stuff that’s been in my thoughts lately is this assault on government workers and particularly, teachers.  I think teaching is arguably the most important career out there and is also one of the lowest paid professions.  I used to be a teacher and I went into that career deciding that if I were to ever own a home or have children it would be absolutely necessary that I found a spouse with a pretty good income.  My first teaching job was in 98.  I worked at a charter school and made 26K that year.  My school was in the inner city district.  I had 28 kindergartners in my class, including a girl who was severely autistic.  When summer came around I didn’t get a break.  Because Mark was in school and we needed the money, I took a full-time job teaching summer camp at a daycare center.  The next year I moved to the public school district for a salary increase to 31K.  I had 28 second graders, including several with serious behavior problems.  It was not uncommon for desks and chairs to go flying across the room on any given day.  By the time I left Ohio with 3 years experience my salary was 34K.  I worked every summer during those years at that daycare center to subsidize our income while Mark was in school.  When we moved to Texas I took a job as a kindergarten teacher.  In Texas there are no unions, so my work days were two hours longer and my pay dropped from 34K to 30K.

Teachers don’t teach for the money.  They don’t do it for the benefits or the prestige.  It is not a predictable job and most definitely not an easy one.  Over my years I met some amazing teachers.  It is a calling and a passion that people do because they can’t not do it.  You do it because the act of guiding others lifts you up and allows you to look past all the bullshit and believe me there is more bullshit than you can imagine.

I am so disappointed in what is going on in the political scene these days.  Several of my old co-workers from Columbus, Ohio are posting about the situation on Facebook.  People are vilifying teachers and I can’t quite figure out why.  Somehow, certain media outlets and groups are managing to make people believe that teaching is somehow some cushy job and teachers are getting more benefits than they deserve.  When I moved to Florida I looked into going back to teaching, but I also wanted to have two children.  Once I realized that two kids in daycare would cost about $1800 a month I knew that it would take my entire monthly salary to pay for that.  Going back to work was out of the question.  If going back to teaching was out of the question for me, that leads me to believe owning a home and having children is out of the question for any single teachers out there.

I believe that having an educated population is one of the most important elements of being a competitive society.  The US is falling farther and farther behind when it comes to educating its citizens.  Oddly, at a time when we need to be making leaps in all areas, we are punishing the very people who are in the trenches educating the next generation so they can make those leaps.  And on the flip side of that, if we continue attacking and vilifying the teaching profession who’s going to be brave enough to go into it?  Am I crazy to still think we actually NEED teachers?

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8 thoughts on “It Ain’t About the Money!

  1. Beth Ann March 2, 2011 / 9:27 am

    The whole situation is kind of crazy, isn’t it? I come from a family of educators and married into a family of educators and my sister in law who currently teaches in Ohio is very upset about all that is going on. Education is so vital to life and it is hard to understand how we can be criticizing the very people who help mold our children! On the other side most teachers have decent benefits and will be able to have retirement and health care after retirement. Something that many others who work can not say that they will have. It is craziness! It is just hard times all over in the US, I think. It is just that the teachers are in the spotlight right now—a small portion of maybe a larger problem???

    • lesleehorner March 2, 2011 / 4:34 pm

      Thanks for your comment Beth Ann! I do wonder though if those benefits will be around for retiring teachers down the road. Mark and I have always planned for the worst case scenario and even though we’ve worked government jobs where we pay in and they pay in to a retirement plan we still have our own nest egg. You never know what will happen and with the baby boomers coming of age this year it will be a wait and see game to find out what is actually available to all the teachers with less than 20 years experience these days.

  2. slowdancejournal March 2, 2011 / 2:09 pm

    Leslee, you are so right about teachers having a passion for their work. Why else would they do a job in which finding time to go to the restroom or chew their lunch are nearly impossible? Difficult financial times have brought out the mean in our representatives. They will do anything but tax the rich or inconvenience corporations. I’m glad you are raising your voice. Without good, dedicated teachers we will truly become a nation of burger flipper.
    Adrian Fogelin

    • lesleehorner March 2, 2011 / 4:42 pm

      Thanks for the comment Adrian. I decided to just start writing about this stuff that’s pissing me off so much. Only one person really responded to my post the other day called “Do People Really Think This is Okay?” She responded to a friend who forwarded the response to me. Basically she just commented that I was really angry and this was all just politics. The thing is this game of politics is going to hurt people. What is happening in Wisconsin and Ohio will basically result in a pay cut for teachers. My old co-worker posted on her FB page that if she gets even a small pay cut she will not be able to afford the mortgage on her two bedroom town home that she shares with her husband and 2 kids. That is just sad. We’re not talking about a 3500 square foot house that someone bought during the boom, she just wants to be able to still afford her little town home! I don’t know if you watched the Daily Show piece I put up on my FB page but it is just ridiculous what those folks on Fox News are saying about teachers. UNBELIEVABLE! So yes, I am angry and have decided to actually admit it! It was really hard to be a teacher and I don’t really plan to return to the profession because I’m just not one of those people who can’t not do it…

  3. meeshelleneal March 2, 2011 / 6:53 pm

    Some of the most influential people in my life have been my teachers.

  4. betsyanne March 3, 2011 / 9:13 pm

    I respect teachers so much. I went back to school to be a teacher, and actually taught for a little while. But I found the job to be extremely difficult, and I did not have the help I thought I would have on the job. Today, I am no longer a teacher.

    Your posting resonated with me. When I was a teacher, I also had students who had severe behavior problems. Some students acted out, were abusive, and many could not read up to grade level. But I still tried my best to teach them.

    You are so right, it is NOT about the money. Teachers who are on the job must be part teacher, part disciplinarian or parent, and part psychologist. They also must have money to spend on the classroom. When I taught, I found myself often paying for supplies that I knew my students could not afford, or did not have for whatever reason. The school could not supply these items. But I could not let my students be without. I know other teachers have this situation going on too.

    Now that I have seen some of what can go on in a school, and how lack of money and resources can make it very hard for teachers, I wonder why more teachers don’t quit or find another kind of job. Another reason? Other jobs can be 40 hours a week. But teaching and grading continues after school, before school, and on weekends, especially for beginning teachers. I have the feeling that this continues for all teachers. We are talking no free time here. Period. Even summertime is filled with lesson planning and more.

    People don’t understand what teachers must go through on the job, or how much they really work. I admire all teachers so much more now.

    I think that all teachers need more support AND more pay. Just saying! 🙂 I also find it hard to believe the events that are happening right now in Wisconsin and Ohio. I guess people must have to have a scapegoat when times are tough. But picking on teachers is the WRONG way to go.

    • lesleehorner March 4, 2011 / 9:03 am

      Thank you so much for this comment. You brought up everything that goes along with the job that I didn’t mention. I don’t plan to go back to teaching either because I struggled so much with discipline in my classroom. I did LOVE the kids though…so much. But that job requires a lot more than just love for the kids.

  5. Sylvia van Bruggen March 5, 2011 / 11:08 pm

    Quite frankly I think those media like to keep people stupid so they believe their BS. How can they say that teachers earn too much, while defending keeping the Bush tax cuts in place for people who earn 5 times more than teachers.

    Of course I am not an American, so my views may be askew 🙂

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