Wednesday, January 28, 2009

How much will we sacrifice?

With America in a financial crisis, I understand that many state and local governments are finding themselves having to make cuts. My question to you, America, is why are teachers viewed as so easily disposable?

The State of Kansas recently announced major budget cuts to the Department of Education. As of the 2006-2007 reports, Kansas was already ranked 37th in average teacher's salaries. They are followed by Iowa in 38th, Nebraska in 43rd, Missouri 46th, North Dakota 48th and South Dakota dead last!

The average beginning salary for a teacher in Kansas at the time of this survey was $30,408. To give you some perspective, the Kansas Medical Assistance Program provides health insurance to children of parents whose income does not excede twice the poverty level.
  • For a single parent of one child, that amount is $28,008! (only $2,000 away from assistance)
  • For a two parent household with one child (or a single parent of two), the limit is $35,208!
  • The median income in Kansas is $40,624!!
  • The average teacher's salary in California is $63,640!

And yet in a time of crisis we feel it is acceptable to cut our spending on education while still mandating that those in the field uphold a higher standard and provide an adequate learning environment for OUR CHILDREN!!

I have been working full-time is Special Education for seven years now. I am non-certified so I expect to be paid marginally less than the teachers who take the brunt of the rules. I would personally describe my role as an educator as an important asset. Our classroom teaches what many might consider "unteachable" students. We adapt lessons, provide extra assistance, and struggle to find ways for even the most "challenged" students to succeed. For the students who recieve this assistance, it is an irreplacable part of their education.

I work 10 months out of the year with partial benefits. I do not recieve pay for holidays, vacations, snow days, or during the summer. I have difficulty obtaining respectable summer employment because I am committed to returning to work in the fall. And I do enjoy my job. I love my co-workers, the children, and the satisfaction of believing I've made a difference in the lives of future generations. I pour my heart into children who are viewed as social outcasts and in some cases, misfits or delinquents.

And what does it all boil down to? With seven years of experience, my 2008 W2 reads $10,500 minus $1,300 to taxes! That's right, for a WHOPPING $9,200 I leave my beautiful family to deal with children who whine, complain, procrastinate, and otherwise avoid all parts of education. I do so with a smile and after seven years I still love it.

But that doesn't change the fact that it's really not worth the money. I wouldn't be surprised in the least to learn that a high school student was making more than I am. I obviously don't work in education for the money!

Is it any wonder that we have put laws into effect that prevent teachers from going on strike?

We, as a country, seem to be certain that there will ALWAYS be people who are willing to teach! But I ask you, "How sure are you?" Are you certain enough to risk YOUR child's future? There may be laws in place to prevent a strike, but there are none to prevent teachers from finding new occupations. And while thre are incentive programs to encourage people to seek degrees in education, there are none that encourage them to remain in the field long term. We have already reached the point where we are actually IMPORTING educators in order to find people willing to work for the pay this country offers. Our small rural district has been forced to recruit graduates from over-seas because they are willing to work for the smaller salary.

So tell me, America. How much are you willing to sacrifice for the sake of a dollar?

And for those in this country who might be fortunate enough to know they can BUY the finest education . . . keep in mind, that will not prevent YOUR TAX DOLLARS from supporting all the children who did NOT recieve an adequate education because America did not view it as vital to funding!


Granny Nanny said...

I have been on both sides of the teacher fence, but I agree that teacher salaries are something we HAVE to invest in. Our children have every right to be well educated, and they will be the ones someday taking care of our nation. My youngest son had resource classes as a child and the teachers were wonderful with all they had to overcome. Thankfully my son was not on medication and loved school. He had a great attitude and was eager to please his teachers, that made things easier. But with their help he is now doing very well in college and still loves school.
Wake up world! We need to prioritize a little better!

My Outside Voice said...

We pay our Garbage collectors better than we pay our teachers.. I've said that since you were in school.. we need to fix this problem..

Day care providers and teachers see our children more than we do.. they need to be paid an amount that reflects this fact..

J... said...

I didn't know that SoDak was so low on the totem pole. I did know that we are having issues with it in this state. My town, for instance, just built a new school building to house the K-4th grades because the several that they had were outdated and not safe for our kids to attend. Now they are needing to cut salaries and jobs at the school to make up for the costs of the new building.

The Real Life Fairy Tale Princess said...

The discussion today at lunch was that our district is considering either dropping to a four day schedule or shortening this school year to help compensate for the budget cuts as well as modifying teacher's contracts. While I wouldn't mind some extra time off, it's definately going to hurt more than just my paycheck.

The Real Life Fairy Tale Princess said...

J... the stats I found were for the 2006-2007 school year, maybe S.D. has taken steps in the RIGHT direction since then, I honestly don't know. (hope so...) :)

Farmer*swife said...

It truly is just crazy. I love our country and I wouldn't want to live anywhere else. But, there are concerns and education is a big one.

We need law enforcement and educators. And, both get paid at the low end for putting themselves out there.

And, in addition, it bothers me that so many kids don't take school seriously. Most countries, the kids are chosen and lucky to be educated.

Here the kids disrespect teachers daily. Awful all the way around.

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