Terrier Times

Pencils Down: Teachers Deserve A Living

North Carolina teachers join teachers across the country in protest of working conditions and wages.

North Carolina teachers join teachers across the country in protest of working conditions and wages.

Joseph Callahan, Senior Editor

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According to a federal Department of Education survey released this month, ninety-four percent of of public school teachers in the United States reported paying for supplies without reimbursement in the school year that straddled 2014 and 2015. In made little difference whether they taught in cities, suburbs or rural areas, or whether or not their students were poor. Virtually every public school teacher said they had used their own money for their classrooms.“It’s almost expected,” said Andy Yung in a New York Times interview, a pre-kindergarten school teacher in Queens. “Especially in the summer months creeping up into September. It’s just something we kind of naturally do.” The teachers who reported spending their own money on supplies shelled out four hundred and seventy-nine dollars in average, according to the survey. Seven percent reported spending more than one thousand dollars. These findings, based on a nationally representative sample of tens of thousands of teachers, underscore the demands of teachers across the country have been making in recent months amid protests over stagnant pay and under funding.

The latest took place in North Carolina, where some schools cancelled classes as thousands marched in the capital. Similar rallies have been held this year in Arizona, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Oklahoma. The protesters have been successful at extracting concessions from conservative lawmakers, through the deals have not always fully met their demands. On average, public school teachers earned just under sixty thousand dollars last school year, according to the National Education Association. However, pay is so low in some areas that educators have resorted to taking on one, two, sometimes three extra jobs just to live and pay the bills. A fact that is not only appalling in nature, but one that really reveals a lot about the character of lawmakers in the United States. If we can’t pay our educators enough money just to live, what effect does that have on the children they’re supposed to be teaching? Paying teachers so low is not only unfair to them, but it’s unfair to children in America, who depend in teachers to give them a basic education.

Even though many kids in America today may not appreciate or understand the fundamentals of hard work or grit or determination, society has to start treating them better. In America, we as a country are focused so much on protecting the emotions of children and what they want, rather than providing them with something that they need. Things like, a quality educational system. Back in late March, a second-grade teacher in Arizona had posted her pay stub, and it went viral. Probably because she is one of the people who we trust to care for and educate our children – and she makes three hundred and twenty bucks a week. We pay such lip service to kids, “they’re the future,” “our greatest natural resource,” “we’ll do anything for them,” but we nickle and dime their teachers? It we really think our children are our future, shouldn’t the people who mold their minds make more than say the night manager at a McDonald’s?

There is a revolt brewing in the teacher’s lounge these days in schools all across the country, and it’s long over do. Time’s up, meet pencils down. Teachers are tired of being told what Sarah Palin once said of a teacher, that, “Her reward is in Heaven.” Maybe, but the rent is due here on Earth and teachers need a living wage. Elizabeth Milich, the teacher who posted her pay stub, wrote: “I buy every roll of tape I use, every paperclip I use, every sharpie I grade with, every snack I feed kids who don’t have them….” How do people, even the burdened tax-payer, justify this? We were all kids once. We remember our teachers, you have those moments of early imprinted in your brain. A teacher was your first mentor, your first role model, and your first guide onto the path of an enlightened mind.

In West Virginia, where the teacher strikes for living wages first started, teachers were just asking for just a five percent pay raise. Not a lot, but it helps when you have to pay for your own paper, your own pencils, and now… your own bullets. Here’s an idea: don’t give teachers guns, give them a living wage. Teachers are not asking for the world, just enough of a raise just so they don’t have to drive an Uber three nights a week. Teachers, as it turns out, do drive Ubers; and work as waiters at restaurants on weekends, and sell their blood plasma to make ends meet. Teaching isn’t supposed to be a side hustle. In Kentucky, teachers are protesting Governor Matt Bevin’s attempt to reduce their pension fund. In a USA Today report, Bevin said the teachers have a quote, “Thug mentality.” He said, “It’s about more than your fair share.” So true, you know when I think someone who’s greedy, the first thing that comes to mind is a public school teacher. Someone who takes the bus to work, and spends their tax-free fund on crayons.

If we really cared about kids, would we be giving them an Education Secretary who needs to stay after class for extra help? Shouldn’t children have the right to a quality education, or the right to a normal childhood? If we really care about children, why do we care so little about the lives of those we trust to enlighten their minds and grow up to be active participants in society? Teachers, more than anyone else, deserve a living wage.

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The official student news site of West Springfield High School
Pencils Down: Teachers Deserve A Living