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.