There’s a joke going around the internet. There are several variations on this joke, and here’s one:
A corporate billionaire, a private sector worker and a teacher are sitting at a table with 12 cookies. The corporate billionaire takes 11 of the cookies, then turns to the private sector worker and says, “Look out. That teacher is trying to steal your cookie.”
I am a greedy, fat cat teacher. Why did I choose teaching as a profession? One word: money. Everyone knows teachers are positively rolling in it. In fact, both yesterday and today, I stayed at work until 5:00 p.m. I work part-time (ALL teachers only work part-time, of course, but I actually do not have a full assignment) and I get off of work at 1:45. But I worked until 5:00. What was I doing in my classroom for so many hours after my paid workday had ended? Counting my money, natch.
After work, I drove my luxury car home to the mansion I own, all spoils of the teaching trade. My husband, who is also a teacher, welcomed me home and we exchanged stories about how lazy we were at work today, how we don’t teach anyone anything EVER, and what a hoot it is that we can’t get fired.
I spent a little time on Facebook, and enjoyed exchanging some stories with colleagues about what a clever deception we’ve all pulled off, convincing people for so long that we are competent, hard-working professionals, when we’re really anything but. My work colleagues and I are such losers, the only jobs we could get were teaching jobs. In PUBLIC schools (which everyone knows are full of icky impoverished people).
We had a hearty, millionaire’s chuckle over how our union intentionally undermines any efforts to improve public education. I mean, why would we want to make it better? We hate children!
The only thing teachers hate more than children? Meetings.
Okay, that part is actually true.
It has been downright bizarre to see teachers portrayed as greedy fat cats, responsible for the budget crisis. There was an episode of “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” this week that had a montage of clips of different people criticising and blaming teachers. One such commenter said that the “average teacher salary” in Wisconsin is somewhere in the neighborhood of $51,000. I wonder if he just looked at the teacher salary schedule and picked the number in the middle, or if he actually researched the salaries of all the teachers and did some math to find the average. This kind of critical analysis is the sort of thing Odie and I try to teach our students every day. Even though the government thinks our time is better spent preparing them for ONE state test they will take on FOUR days out of 180.
In my state, I pay nearly 30% of my salary in taxes. So, even if I made $51,000 a year at my part-time job, that’s not my take-home pay. And that summer off we all enjoy? Unpaid. Plus, few of us take the summer off. Most of the teachers I know either scrimp and save all year to afford those two months of mortgages, groceries, utilities, and insurance or they work summer school or other jobs to make ends meet. I’ve worked as a teacher for 12 years and I’ve worked 10 out of 12 of those summers.
Here’s a true account of my day yesterday. It’s true I worked until 5. I graded papers, tidied student desks, scrubbed spilled juice off the floor, threw away gum and candy wrappers left behind by students, prepared my agendas on the whiteboards for the next lesson, entered grades into my computer, and put student journals on desks where they’d be ready first thing tomorrow. I noticed that three of my students STILL hadn’t purchased a spiral notebook or composition book. I felt irritated, since I’ve reminded all three of them several times. I considered stopping at the store and just buying them some notebooks, but I was already so late, I decided to go straight home.
As I approached my car in the parking lot, I could see that it was leaking some sort of fluid AGAIN. Thank goodness the old clunker is still getting me around, because with a baby on the way and unpaid maternity leave coming up, I don’t have room for a car payment in my monthly expenses. Maybe next year. We could use up a big chunk of our rapidly shrinking “nest egg,” but we have to prepare for the possibility that with the state budget like it is, one or both of us could be laid off in the near future. How’s that for “a job for life”?
I’m not saying I’m some kind of saint, but I’m not a villain, either. I knew what I was getting into when I chose to be a teacher. I knew I’d have to work hard. I knew I’d be unappreciated for the most part. Knowing all of this, I went into the profession because I love the English language and I have a talent for teaching.
And I want to be filthy, stinking rich.
I hear you. I’m sure you’ve seen it before, but this is something commonly mass emailed around by my teacher friends.
Are you sick of highly paid teachers?
Teachers’ hefty salaries are driving up taxes, and they only work 9 or10 months a year! It’s time we put things in perspective and pay them for what they do – babysit!
We can get that for less than minimum wage.
That’s right. Let’s give them $3.00 an hour and only the hours they worked; not any of that silly planning time, or any time they spend before or after school. That would be $19.50 a day (7:45 to 3:00 PM with 45 min. off for lunch and plan– that equals 6 1/2 hours).
Each parent should pay $19.50 a day for these teachers to baby-sit their children. Now how many students do they teach in a day…maybe 30? So that’s $19.50 x 30 = $585.00 a day.
However, remember they only work 180 days a year!!! I am not going to pay them for any vacations.
That’s $585 X 180= $105,300
per year. (Hold on! My calculator needs new batteries).
What about those special education teachers and the ones with Master’s degrees? Well, we could pay them minimum wage ($7.75), and just to be fair, round it off to $8.00 an hour. That would be $8 X 6 1/2 hours X 30 children X 180 days = $280,800 per year.
Wait a minute — there’s something wrong here! There sure is!
The average teacher’s salary (nation wide) is $50,000. $50,000/180 days= $277.77/per day/30 students=$9.25/6.5 hours = $1.42 per hour per student–a very inexpensive baby-sitter and they even EDUCATE your kids!) WHAT A DEAL!!!!
I totally hear ya. I also am a teacher in CA (unfortunately in a pretty conservative area) and it is so deflating to constantly be the punching bag these days. I’m going to rent that movie narrated by Matt Damon (can’t think of the name right now) that talks about the real culprits of the financial crisis.
Here here. Also, my theory is that a few years back and prior when everyone was a fat cat no one gave a second glance to teaching. Oh, isn’t that nice, you’re teaching, how lovely, you’ll never be rich but you may have a good retirement, etc. BUT NOW that the country is going to hell in a handbasket, SUDDENLY people are looking at teachers, like HEY, why do YOU still have a job??? Why do YOU get to have the secure job???? SUDDENLY this teaching profession is enviable. So let’s blame the state of affairs on teachers.
(p.s. there are no teacher unions in GA and many other states).
At least we know that next week it will be someone else’s turn. The 24 hour news cycle needs fresh sacrifices.
Yeah – you only work nine months a year. What “they” don’t relaize is that you spend most every night of those nine months losing sleep over the kid who writes that his belief in Dog is very important to him.
Ha! So true. I lose way too much sleep thinking about the kids at school.
Preach, sister. I’m a high school English teacher from New Jersey, where the Gov. has declared us public enemy number 1 and clearly the root of all evil. And the public believed him. And they pushed through legislation that will reduce our salaries by an amount too depressing to think about. *sigh*
Keep hanging in there. I went back to work this year after a four month maternity leave, so I feel a lot of your pain. Oh, and I also think Kelle Hampton BUGS. Congrats on the new baby!