Our legislative bodies seem to be always concerned about education, teachers and student learning. Do their actions show it? New Michigan Schools Superintendent Brian Whiston has been credited with asking “If education is our state’s priority, why don’t we pay teachers like it is?” The educational reform movement seems to be about cutting the cost of educators NOT building up the profession and making it a priority. My school district has been dealing with cuts like many districts in our state. Teachers are feeling devalued and disrespected. Superintendents and school boards are trying to do their best with what little funding they have. As a local MEA leader I am responsible for bargaining our contract. New laws require that school district employees pay more for pensions and health care. As salary schedules are frozen, teachers have taken home less pay each year over the past 4 years, with no hope for relief in sight.
I recently received this message from a colleague:
“As you may or may not know teaching was not my first career path what you may not know is that when I came out of college I sub taught for my brother for a semester because he had undergone neck surgery. After that semester I thought teaching is NOT for me, so I promptly found a cooperate position as a management trainee for Cintas where in 4 years I was promoted 5 times and was now the boss of the person who hired me. During that time I was still coaching and matured quite a bit. My passion for helping kids grew and I thought if I was truly going to make difference I needed to become a teacher. That summer I turned in my resignation and began going to school full time while subbing here in the woods almost everyday. 3 years later I was hired HERE at WWT and I couldn’t have been more excited. I felt the decision I made to leave a position where I earned $20K more was worth it because I was here, where I really wanted to be. I knew I would start at step 0 but in time I would again earn a salary I could raise a family on. While I am grateful to have a position doing what I love… love don’t buy diapers. I understand that times in education have been tough for all of us but for those of us who have been frozen at or near the bottom of the pay scale it has been extremely difficult. Eventually they guy flipping burgers will either surpass me on the pay scale or take my position as an educator if something does not change. I also believe our administration is doing everything in their power to preserve positions and for that we should all be grateful. I’m not trying to blame anyone or point fingers that’s not how I do things I’m merely stating the facts… its cold on the bottom of the porch and many of us my be frozen right out of the profession.
If it helps I can speak to the salary freeze, and concerns many of us have. As a relatively new hire but someone who has been around here for a long time I can speak to the impact this is having at least to my family. While our salaries have been frozen our lives have not. Since being hired 6 years ago I have had three children and anyone can understand the difficulties that carries alone but factor in the increase in health care, 3% that still goes (I don’t know where) and rising cost of living…. Dude we are struggling! So much so I am considering leaving the profession all together, not because I want too but because my family deserves the most from me and I just can’t provide that at this time. I love what I do and believe I make a difference in the lives our kids and the community but I can’t afford to do what I love, teach and coach. I have not put a time table on this decision but it is one my wife and I are considering. Thank you for listening and feel free to share my thoughts if you think it will help. ”
Sadly this is the story for many educators all over the country. How can we expect our best to stay in education when jobs in other sectors will value them more?
Its cold outside for educators! We need the legislative body to take action and show our profession RESPECT not lip service during election season then attacks the rest of the time. Incredible teachers are considering leaving the classroom daily, the colleges are empty of replacements, if this continues our schools will be barren.