Monday, May 5, 2014

Teacher Appreciation…

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. 


Cassie @ Primitive & Proper said...

my good friend who is a teacher has to also bartend and wait tables on weekends up in MA. she was a pharm rep and made beaucoup dollars, but she wanted to make a difference so went back to school while working as a pharm rep. so now she works probably 3 times as hard, making a fraction of the money, so she can do something that makes a difference. our country should be rewarding her, and you, for educating the future leaders. it all makes no sense to me. as a parent i want the best for my kids, and i want the teachers to be appreciated for what they do- i don't want overtired and underpayed teachers!!!! what good will that do? this country is so backwards sometimes and i just don't get it.

Holly said...

I could not agree more... it hurts my heart to see what our state is doing to its teachers and our children, who are greatly affected by the decisions being made.

Heidi @ Decor & More said...

Well said, Kirbs! They are so lucky to have dedicated teachers like yourself and it pains me that the work of teachers is not recognized as CRITICAL to the future of our country -- both economically and morally. Praying for change... xo Heidi
PS -- i'm not getting your feed anymore for some reason, so sorry I've been mia! Think it's Feedburner??

Bliss said...

The word tenure reminds me of the word manure for some reason. Whatever that reason is, sounds like a shitty deal for the NC teachers.

Suzan Sweatman said...

How horrible Kirby - complete nonsensical legislation - which goes on here in Canada too !
I know someone who actually DOES make more bartending then they would teaching - what a
sad sad commentary on today's society

Art and Sand said...

Is this a NC thing, or is it going on in other states around you also?

I hate to tell you how much I get from my state teacher's retirement in California and I only had 24 years in the public school system because I taught in private schools first. My pension is twice the amount of the average California income (how's that for a math problem). One reason we have a better retirement is that California teachers do not pay into Social Security so they are only eligible for a tiny portion of any SS they paid into and they cannot collect their spouses SS when the spouse dies.

Hang in there!

Linda @ it all started with paint said...

In every state it seems they are always going after the teachers and the schools. It so sad and I feel so helpless when it comes to my kids. I can't imagine how you are feeling when they go after your livelihood and retirement. It's a sad testament to this country that our politicians devalue educators. They talk the talk but never walk the walk ...

Shannon Fox said...

I always wonder where our money goes? All you hear about is cut funding to schools, and teachers being punished. Everything suffers. It makes no sense.

Mel@Mellywood's Mansion said...

That sucks! Over the years of being a Mum I have seen great teachers and really sucky teachers (One so bad that I made an appointment with the principle I would remove my kids from the school if any of my kids were placed in her class again) I truly hope your government does change their minds and start showing the right teachers some appreciation but sadly for the rest of you if they don't the next generation will suffer severely!

Danni@SiloHillFarm said...

THat first teacher appreciation post was the very first post of yours I ever read! It was hilarious!! But...this new one is serious and a sad state of affairs for the teachers and the kids of NC. Pathetic!

Feral Turtle said...

This is really sad that our educators must struggle. My son-in-law is a high school math and science teacher. He works hard, putting in almost as much time at home as he does in the classroom. His wife, my daughter, is the big breadwinner of the household and didn't go to secondary school for nearly as long, although she too has worked extremely hard to get where she is. The big joke in the household is "Well at least you get summers and spring break off." Poor guy worked all through spring break and gets three weeks off in the summer, as he takes on other jobs! Definitely a tough career. Cheers to all the great underappreciated teachers out there! Keep up the good work!

Marty Walden said...

In this instance I'm ashamed to be a North Carolinian. Honestly, I don't stay very "educated" (ha!) on this because we homeschool, but I know our systems are failing. I don't homeschool because of the system but it certainly gives one reasons to think. Fortunately I only have 3 years left and by then I'll be a big blogger. hahahahahaha You can come work for me!

Debbie Borthwick said...

I certainly appreciate teachers, they have done a wonderful job of teaching our kids. Up here in Ontario, I know many of them are underpaid, too. Things are so different from when my uncle was working at his high school. I hope the changes don't happen and you are able to work till you can retire, without being forced out.
Debbie :)

Andi Filante said...

This is absolute crap. And I worry so much about my daughter, who has nearly completed her bachelors in music ed, and wants to continue on to getting her masters. I've tried to gently discourage that (as has my close friend, a college professor), but she's determined. It's getting more difficult everywhere for teachers with a masters to find employment, because of what you talk about above.

It's crap. Did I mention that already??

Well, it is.


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