Monday, May 5, 2014
A couple of years ago, I wrote a post regarding what teachers would like for Teacher Appreciation Week.
That was a silly post, but this year I’m afraid I will be a little more serious, based on what’s going on in NC today, and what other folks have posted on facebook.
When I moved to NC for DL’s job, I left my career back in NY. I knew that I wasn’t going to find another job like the one I had, so I went to Wake Forest for a semester to get my NC teaching credentials. I was a stay-at-home mom for over ten years, and didn’t teach until my kids were in elementary school. By that time my credentials had lapsed, and I worked, got my graduate degree, and cared for my home and family simultaneously. I’ll be honest—it was a cluster most days—but I liked teaching and wanted to be the best educator I could be.
Fifteen years later, when I’m supposed to be thinking about retirement (which will be at twenty for me, because of the gap in my employment history), I’m being told that it may or may not happen. Why? In a nutshell, money.
Not only have teachers not had a raise in over five years, but now I have to worry about remaining employed. I never thought that my advanced degree and my years of experience would put me at risk of LOSING my job…but I’m afraid that’s the way it is in NC today. The older, more experienced teachers are being offered a four year contract, after which time they will be released. This is meant to entice us, because all teachers are supposed to lose tenure in 2018.
That’s right—we’re losing tenure.
In other words, all the time and energy and money (in the form of classroom supplies and advanced education) we have put into our jobs is for nothing. Experienced teachers are being kicked out in favor of younger, less-expensive teachers who do NOT have advanced degrees. The state is discouraging those folks from getting advanced degrees by not paying them more money for a Masters earned after April of 2014.
And what about these younger teachers? They are being paid about the same as they would bartending or waiting tables. Many of those who are single are eligible for assistance of some sort, and nearly all of them have second (and sometimes third!) jobs.
This is unacceptable.
I imagine that a teacher who works more than one job has a difficult time planning and delivering quality instruction, because their focus is divided. Even with my years of experience, I need lots of time to plan my instruction. I couldn't devote the time to planning if I had a second job.
There are a plethora of “reasons” for the change in NC education…none of them acceptable. Teachers are leaving the state and going elsewhere to work for more money and job protection. Republican leaders are blaming Democrats…Democrats are blaming Republicans…and everyone wants to blame teachers.
So, for this year’s Teacher Appreciation Week, let’s do something different. Let’s really appreciate teachers. Tell your state legislators to retain tenure and pay teachers a living wage.