Saturday, October 31, 2009

Something's Not Fair

Last Tuesday the local newspaper reported that the school board had unanimously voted for a 10% cut in the amount of money paid out through a state teacher quality compensation program. It also reduced first-year teachers' starting salaries from $30,000 to $29,750. Even with these cuts, the school board still needs to cut $2 million more. All this is due to an across-the-board cut by Iowa's governor. Even the governor is taking a 10% cut in pay.

Just a week before, I was reading about the fantastic profits reaped by the corporations that the tax-payers bailed out. These companies are still too big to fail, they still are completely deregulated, executives are still reaping huge bonuses, and they're keeping their profits instead of paying back the bail-out money.

Life isn't fair, and if you're a teacher, it really isn't fair.

If you're planning on becoming a teacher, you will put up with this kind of thing throughout your career. My first year of teaching, I was forced to resign at the end of the year because I had taken the job of another teacher who went on maternity leave. Since she had the right to return to her job, I had to leave. I did get another job in another school in the same district, but at the end of that second year, the position was discontinued because of budget cuts. Again, I moved to another teaching job in the same district, but every year there was always a fear that the job would be gone. Teaching staff was often reduced, salaries were cut or postponed, monies promised by the state or federal government never materialized, government mandates were inadequately funded, and it was the teachers who suffered. There were several teachers with large families whose children qualified for the free lunch program.

So for 32 years, I worked never knowing what the next year would bring. The year I retired, the retirement package paid the retirees' insurance premiums until age 65. That's actually a pretty good deal. But again, it was uncertain. This year's retirees only received a small amount of money for their unused sick insurance.

So for those entering a teaching career, plan on things not being fair. Don't go into teaching for the money or for job security. Go into teaching because you love teaching children. And if that's not enough, don't go into teaching.


  1. I can relate to your post. Twelve years ago when I started teaching in Calgary, Canada, as a first year teacher I made less than the caretaker. Our society seems to value sports figures more than they do teachers. As far as I am concerned teachers are providing great value to society and should be paid accordingly.

  2. Thanks so much for your comment. There's a Mel Brooks movie titled "Life Stinks." In it there's a line that goes "They make us live in the crap, and now theyre taking the crap away?" Sometimes as a teacher that's how I felt. Thank goodness for the students. They're the ones who make it worthwhile (well most of the time, anyway).