A rant on teaching

With all of the news on teacher strikes and the like in the last year—including one here in my home state of Arizona and one currently happening in Los Angeles—there have been a lot of … opinions that I disagree with. Usually, I scroll by, because I’m substantially unlikely to change the mind of one of those people.

(Ultimately, their “button” isn’t education, and without knowing what about this is triggering to them, I can’t attempt to have a rational conversation. And depending on what the trigger is, the conversation may be impossible.)

But the other day, I didn’t pass on by. Here is his comment, in part:

If you don’t like what you’re getting paid for the time being, get out of the profession. You don’t do it for the money and you knew that from the get go. Either learn how to take advantage of other money making strategies while teaching, or get out. Plain and simple. There are plenty of ways you can make extra money and still be a teacher alone. Self educate yourself in the art of financial literacy through books from Tony Robbins, Warren Buffett, Grant Cardone, Robert Kiyosaki. There is too much complaining and not enough innovating. You have all the tools in the world to thrive while doing what you apparently love, and all I here is complaining and laziness. Ridiculous.

And my response:

I’ve taught for 20 years. In that time, I’ve attained a Masters degree and National Board Certification.

My salary is 40% higher than it was my first year teaching; at least half of that is because of the degree and cert. My heath insurance costs and it didn’t used to. (When I went through cancer treatments, it cost me a total of about $700, over 8 months, including 2 ER visits, a 2-week hospital stay, 6 months of chemo, a month of radiation, and countless doctor’s appointments, scans, and blood work. If I went through that today, it would cost over $10K.)

But because teaching is so severely devalued, the skills I have aren’t seen as transferrable. I’ve tried to change careers and can’t. Because entry-level everything right now is paid shit (it’s not a teaching problem, it’s a capitalism problem), even at my salary, I can’t get entry-level that’s close enough.

I didn’t go into teaching expecting to be wealthy. But I expected a raise every year, I expected a good benefits package, and I expected solid retirement, because those were the norms 20 years ago. I haven’t gotten a raise every year (two years in a row we took cuts) and I don’t have a good benefits package (again, a capitalism problem).

I also didn’t go into teaching expecting to need a second job. Would you tell other professionals with advanced degrees that they were lazy for not working after work, after working more than full-time hours to start with?

Are there teachers who walk in and out with kids (aside from meetings and other required events)? Absolutely. They’re not good teachers, and those aren’t the people you want widespread.

Support the people who are working their asses off to make their classrooms effective, engaging, and thorough for kids. Because we need well-educated people if we’re going to turn this country around.

And what I should have also said:

Teachers are innovating. We do more with less every year. The mix of abilities in my room—both academically and socio-emotionally—is vastly different (and more challenging) than it was when I started. Parent involvement is different. Expectations of schools and of what schools provide is different. Our load is heavier in every metric.

We offer classes to the community, special services for kids. We have 92 ways to teach every lesson and an army of backup for when our bags of tricks run empty.

I remember hearing business people talking about taking hours at work to prepare for a presentation. Must be nice to have hours on the clock to prepare for every presentation.

I could go on and on, but for today, I’ll stop there.

0 thoughts on “A rant on teaching”

  1. Well said. I’ve recently gone BACK to school at 40 to better serve the system in which I teach. It’s about loyalty and fulfilment. Not wealth. But loyalty is rewarded so less often than ‘just showing up’…which is often the twisted consensus in regards to teachers by those taking us for granted.


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