Yesterday, while sharing wisdom acquired at the nail shop, I mentioned short articles to come (about soy beans and teachers.)
I could write a really LONG diatribe about teachers and how it’s about time that teachers, nationwide, rise up and demand to be treated like professionals, but that isn’t this article. (Indications are that the movement is already escalating nationwide.)
As the author of “Training the Teacher As A Champion” (Performance Learning Systems, Inc. of Emerson, NJ) and a veteran teacher with approximately 200 teacher years in the immediate family (mother, sister, sister-in-law, brother-in-law, niece) it is a field about which I know a fair amount. I generally say I had a 37-year teaching career, since the Sylvan Learning Center I founded also involved teaching, and I also taught as adjunct faculty at all Quad City area colleges or universities at various times.
This is a short piece, basically lifted from page A7 of the Austin American Statesman, that notes: “National Council on Teacher Quality data on teacher salary, qualifications, and home affordability reveals that even with 5 years of experience and a master’s degree, Austin ISD teachers cannot afford the median mortgage payments in the city.
Even more shocking, if a local teacher with those qualifications saved 10 % of his or her income annually, it would take more than 10 years for the individual to generate enough for a 20% down payment on a home.”
And, notes the Statesman, that is with today’s median home price, which is bound to go up, as it has steadily in Austin in recent years. The report was put together by Ku, Sikes and Edwards, all doctoral students in the College of Education at the University of Texas.
They also noted: “For 2017-1028, Austin ISD lost 1,600 students in enrollment compared with the prior year—the 5th consecutive year of enrollment decline. About half of the students are leaving the city to move to neighboring suburban districts because housing is more affordable. However, teachers get left out of the conversation with such gentrification taking over the affordable options.”
At a time when the President of the United States is seriously suggesting that teachers be issued guns to protect themselves and their charges, possibly even laying down their lives to protect the students in their charge, and wanna-be presidential candidates like Scott Walker (of Wisconsin) are destroying unions, in general, (especially those for public employees, including teachers) and Illinois is grappling with keeping promises made through the years, contractually, to retired teachers whose pensions are now coming due (when Illinois did not put in its fair share of that money in years past and is now trying to figure out where to come up with it), it is worth noting that teachers cannot even afford to live in the districts in which they teach, if those districts are popular destination cities like Austin, Nashville, etc.
I had a Master’s + 30 and never made more than $25,000 my best year teaching in Illinois, with 17 and 1/2 years of experience in the field. I did try to help my SEA (Silvis Education Association) teachers’ organization unionize and gain recognition, in the hopes that our salaries and our working conditions could, at the very least, be negotiated, but whether that 3-year endeavor, which was ultimately successful, has helped future generations of educators in that district is a question I cannot answer.
It is hard to tell your sons and daughters, your best and brightest, to go into teaching, if they are going to be a primary support of a family unit with sobering facts like those above. Lord knows that the students of today are not getting more respectful and better-behaved and some will argue that the teachers of today “don’t deserve as much respect,” but those are the very individuals I’d like to see do the job for just one semester in the trenches.
It gets even worse for college faculty, who, in Illinois, anyway, sometimes qualify for food stamps because they are squeezed like a sponge and given just enough hours to bring them up to full-time status where they would qualify for benefits like health care, but not enough to pass that threshold. I know this from teaching at 6 IA/IL colleges or universities.
And, since marriage as an institution seems to be on the ropes, too, many girls must face the fact that they may be supporting themselves without a second paycheck for their entire lives. Therefore,those individuals of either sex need to think long and hard about how much they need to live comfortably, and whether the field(s) they have chosen, no matter how rewarding personally, are going to meet their financial needs. It’s not a new question: it’s been one that is relevant to musicians, artists, filmmakers and any number of other occupations. It is now becoming a fact of life for teachers at a time when they are being asked to do much more with much less.