Actually, It Is the Money

John Spencer Current Affairs, Education Policy

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I’m in a higher paying district in Phoenix. I know of teachers who are making $4,000 less a year than me. Unlike my own children’s school district, my district is not considering a four day work week. I realize that, to a certain extent, I am lucky. My district’s override passed.

Still, in my own district, I see teachers taking on second and third jobs on a regular basis. I know of one who bar tends, another who babysits, still another working retail and one who works the late shift at Starbucks. These teachers aren’t doing this for extra spending money. They’re doing this to make ends meet.

Meanwhile, as the economy improves, our state is slashing funding for public education. Folks are asking why we have a teacher shortage in our state. Is it the tests? Is it the parents? Is it teacher prep? Is it the fact that teachers are held in low regard publicly? Perhaps some of those play a role. But maybe the biggest reason is the pay. Maslow’s hierarchy applies to teachers as well.

People talk about education policy and the conversations almost always shift into whether or not we should take tests online or whether schools should change the grading policy to standards based. However, the biggest policy shaping my reality right now as a dad and as a teacher is the current budget. When schools are starved, it’s hard to think of anything else.

 

John Spencer

Phoenix, Arizona

In my sophomore year of college, I began tutoring a fifth-grader in a Title One, inner city Phoenix school. What began as a weekly endeavor of teaching fractions and editing essays grew into an awareness of the power of education to transform lives. My involvement in a non-profit propelled a passion for learning as an act of empowerment.

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Comments 4

  1. Jess Ledbetter

    Well, said. For anyone interested in reading more about the issue of teacher pay, Berliner & Glass have a great section about it in “50 Myths and Lies that Threaten to Destroy America’s Schools.” In summary, teachers need a considerable amount of education to be teachers. Compared to other occupations with similar amounts of schooling, teachers are far underpaid. I definitely think that low pay is a threat to the quality of the profession, especially considering teachers work many hours outside the school day. It is definitely a big price to pay to have a job you love…especially when teachers are footing the bill to buy school supplies for their under-funded classrooms. Treacherous times out here!

    1. Guest

      I don’t know if I will ever understand how someone with the equivalent education who works outside of education can make so much more. It is devastating to see fellow educators have to take on a second job to make ends meet or leave education.

  2. V. V. Robles

    I don’t know if I will ever understand how someone with the equivalent education who works outside of education can make so much more. It is devastating to see fellow educators take on a second job to make ends meet. Some will unfortunately leave education.

  3. Sandy Merz

    “Feed the teachers or they eat the students” Unknown. I remember talking to an engineer who was doing some volunteer work at our school. He loved the environment and interaction with the students. He could easily have been a teacher and told me he could consider it but had grown accustomed to the standard of living his engineering job provided and couldn’t see leaving. Here is a pro who could choose between two careers he loved and chose the one that paid more. Who could blame him?

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