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- Budget Cuts? Don't Take It Out On The Teachers - Or The Students - March 20, 2017
I work in a fairly affluent district. The majority of my students come from parents with college degrees and are homeowners in our community. The town has passed school bonds based on property taxes to fund the 'extras' in our districts, such as art programs, sports and an additional period for kids to take electives.
In other words, this community - the community where I grew up, where I live, where my children go to school and where I teach - supports education.
Many would think this is the 'ideal' teaching location. What could be better than engaged parents, prepared students and extra funding for students?
Fair teacher salaries, that's what. Salaries that honor teachers who are committed to staying in this district, salaries that reward teachers who are curious and capable and believe they, themselves, are life-long learners.
It is no secret that the California state budget has been in a crisis. I got my first 'pink slip' notice in 2006, after 16 years of teaching. And I got another one the following year. There was no money, and districts around the state were enforcing a 'reduction in service', forcing many teachers to move to larger districts, go out of state, or leave the profession all together.
I stayed. I toughed it out. I was dedicated to our district.
Finally last year, California began to straighten out its budget and districts found themselves with more funding. Our district negotiated a 2% raise - more than we'd received in the past six years. Nothing life changing, to be sure, but it felt like the beginning of a positive trend.
That is until I saw my paycheck last month. Instead of a 2% raise, I received a pay cut. That's right - $200 less per month. I was shocked. Amazed. Furious.
When I dug into the details I realized the issue - while my 2% raise was there, the district had increased my health care premium by $375/month. And there went my raise.
I'm a 22-year dedicated teacher. Aside from some shortened contracts while my children were babies, I've dedicated my entire career to teaching. I've worked the long hours, put up with overcrowded classes, too many meetings and not enough supplies. I've written grants, paid out of my own pocket, and mentored new teachers. I've been selected as teacher of the year at my school, worked 20% over my contract to help make ends meet and pay for my daughter's college tuition. [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent="yes" overflow="visible"][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type="1_1" background_position="left top" background_color="" border_size="" border_color="" border_style="solid" spacing="yes" background_image="" background_repeat="no-repeat" padding="" margin_top="0px" margin_bottom="0px" class="" id="" animation_type="" animation_speed="0.3" animation_direction="left" hide_on_mobile="no" center_content="no" min_height="none"]But this time, this pay cut, I'm taking personally. Click To Tweet
Is this the way to honor those that stand before our children every day? Is this the way to make me feel like I should stick it out a few more years, just to increase my retirement earning potential? Is this the way to say thank you for going the extra mile?
I'm sure there are thousands of teachers like me. Every day, we put ourselves second and put kids first. Click To TweetWe leave our own children in the morning and return to them at dusk. We struggle to pay for their college expenses and think about all those kids that we helped get to college, those kids that belong to someone else but that we invested in as if they were our own. There are teachers all over this country who are working overtime, finding evening jobs or spending their summers trying to make a little more cash.
This is the real myth about teacher salaries. We are working to help form our world's future, all the while wondering how we will pay for our own. Click To Tweet
There's something seriously wrong with that.
Maybe I can figure it out when I quit - likely to be sooner than later. Click To TweetThat's the sad reality teachers face - we simply can't afford to do this job anymore.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]