Monday, August 17, 2009

An Apple For The Teacher? Nope, School Supplies.

A couple of weeks ago, I participated in the Office Max pod cast with Peter Walsh. It was fun and we all got some great tips for getting our kids and ourselves organized for back to school. We twittered away, asking all kinds of questions and making comments about what we were viewing. There were two teachers there with Peter and something one of them said struck me as very sad. She said that instead of giving your child's teacher a coffee mug, or some other gift, to give them school supplies.

The average teacher in this country spends over $1200 of their own money in order to have the tools they need to effectively teach their classes.
I have a big problem with this. Not the fact that the teachers are asking for help getting classroom supplies, but because athletes, celebrities and the like get paid millions of dollars while our teachers get an average of $51,000 per year according to a 2007 survey by the American Federation of Teachers. No wonder the public school system is losing teachers to privately funded schools. Better pay and all the supplies they need. What's not to love?

Does anybody see a problem here?

Teachers not only have to deal with sometimes insolent, out of control children, but also the downright violent kids. Still, they teach. Even though they get very little in the way of salary or recognition. Yet athletes and celebrities get worshiped like gods. And paid like them, too. Teachers are the biggest influence on our kids next to us, yet they get bupkis.

The disparity between athlete and celebrity pay versus a teacher's pay is appalling. Why do we let this happen in this country? We expect, hell we DEMAND, that our teachers effectively and competently teach our children. But how can they be expected to do their jobs without the proper, or even enough, tools? Our school districts, which our taxes help fund, are not giving their employees the supplies they need. I understand that budgets are tight, right now, but this is not a new problem. This has been going on for years.

I read an article in Parents Magazine a while back that said you should give your child's teacher a gift certificate for a spa or some other pampering type of service as a thank you for a job well done in lieu of the standard coffee mug. At the time, I thought it was a great idea. Now, after being reminded that they spend so much of their own money in an effort to give their students the best learning environment possible, I have changed my mind.

As a SAHM, I crave a break from my child, how do you think teachers feel when they have 30 of them everyday, with no breaks? And extremely low pay? Nearly all teachers do it because they love it. But when they are not given all that they need to do their jobs well and terrible pay, how long will it be before that love turns into burnout or bitterness? I honestly think that teachers having everything they need to get the job done will take a large amount of stress off of them and help them to teach more effectively. Less stressful teachers = happier students = better learning environment. Everybody wins.

There are two things I urge you all to do about this:
  • First, write your school board, state representatives and congressmen and tell them that you think that teachers should have an increased salary and that they should not have to spend their own money for supplies the schools should be providing.
  • Second, ask your child's teacher if they need any supplies, then get them a gift certificate for $5, $10, $15 or whatever you can afford to a good school supply store like Office Max. Or maybe even ask all the other parents to donate a few bucks and then get one large gift certificate for the teacher. Try to do this a couple of times during the school year.
What would be even better is for teachers to actually get paid what they are worth. I have heard all the arguments about how they get the Summers off and all the holidays, etc.. Those don't hold water for me. If Stay-At-Home-Moms got paid for everything we do, we would be making a six figure salary! Teachers basically have control of our most precious gifts, our children, for five hours everyday. They get to see our kids at their best and their worst. And they keep coming back day after day. Low pay and all.

We need to keep our quality teachers in the public school system. They need to be paid what they are worth. Soon all of them will be scooped up into the private sector, then where will our public educational system be? Not everyone can afford private schools.

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5 comments:

GiraffeGal213 said...

Thank you for this! I'm a teacher and you would be amazed at the way some parents treat you. Like something on the bottom of your shoe when you seriously only have the child's best interest and future at heart. I've had countless people tell me that I am OVERPAID also. What they also don't realize is that on top of working way more than they realize (just because I might leave at 3 doesn't mean I don't spend hours at home working!)and spending money out of our pockets - we also in most states must continue to take graduate classes in order to keep our certification up to date. Those classes both take a lot of time and cost a lot of money which must come out of our own pockets - no reimbursement here. We also pay hefty fees every 5 years or so to renew the certification - which again is out of our pockets. Yes, I can write some of on taxes but not nearly what I spend. I didn't say all of this to be a martyr - I love what I do that's why I do it but please don't tell me I am overpaid!

Sorry about the rant. Again I appreciate how appreciative you are. Thanks again :)

STILLMAGNOLIA said...

Thank you for this post. I am a teacher also. I was at school this morning for bus duty at 6:45. I did not leave until 5:00 this afternoon. That is over 8 hours. I work hours like that many days. I worked in my room, or attended conferences, or worked at home on school stuff all summer long. We are now in our second week. WE have to have so many Continuing Education units a year to keep our certification current. I am currently taking an online class. I have taught over 20 years and there have been so many days I have wondered why I do this....and then there is the email from a former student who just graduated from college with a major in my subject thanking me for pushing them when they did not want to be pushed...I sit there and cry...and know I am where I am supposed to be. I know I don't make much as a teacher...I did not sign on for the money....it is a little frustrating...when a nurse, with just an RN, can make as much or more than I make with a Master's Degree. My cousin...a nurse...works 7 and is off 7....do the math...that is every other week off...plus she has three weeks vacation a year...and holidays....and makes twice what I do. She does have a BS in nursing...but I have a Master's! Last year I spent 1800 of my own money on school supplies...and cleaning supplies. This year I will probably spend more because we are in proration in my state. Our senators gave themselves a fat 60+% pay hike...and that is their second job...and we got 12% proration for it. It is not fair...and I am really not complaining. I am in for the kids. That moment when the lightbulb comes on for one kid....makes my day!....but thanks for recognizing that something should be done...and that is why so many of the young teachers go to other states...or other professions and never teach at all. Ok...big sigh...I am through ranting.

LadyStyx said...

Some teachers don't even make that. My first husband and I worked for a Christian private school in Lousiana and he made a good 50% LESS than that "average". His highest salary was $24,000/yr and not much of that was bring home money. They were alotted $50 a semester to go towards teaching aides for their classrooms and that's it. The rest came from out of pocket or were hand made. As a secretary, I only made $9000/yr. Between the two of us, we could barely keep a roof over our heads, nevermind trying to pay the bills too.

Mommy's Hangout said...

I know Its very sad Every year I buy my kids teacher's supplies for the classroom when school starts and then I big basket of supplies for Christmas and teacher appreciation week along with a personal small gift for themselves. They Love it and each of them tell me how thankful they are. Now its a joke at the school with the teachers hoping they get my kids each year cause they know that I Help and do whatever i can.

Mommy Goggles said...

I cannot agree more! At the beginning and end of the year, we take in some extra supplies for the class and a gift card to a local place where the teacher can buy things they really need. I think it's a great idea!

 

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