A teacher should be able to comfortably support a family on their income. 

There, I said it.  It’s out in the open.  If you disagree, let’s hear why in a positive and constructive manner.   If you believe that a teacher should not earn enough money to support a family, why not?

The fact of the matter is that teachers do NOT make enough money to support a family.  In fact, they don’t even get close to making enough money.  The situation is like this, in my opinion.  The structure of teacher compensation in Arizona today is such that the profession is the epitome of a dead end job. 

A dead end job is a job that offers no hope of financial security, despite improving in the skill and production the employee provides to the organization, a job where the input and expertise of the employee is not considered, a job where the employee is treated as interchangeable, perhaps even replaceable by a computer program.

Let’s tackle the financial aspect for now.   In Arizona many districts had a pay scale based on number of years served in the district.  Every year a teacher worked they would receive a slight bump in pay.  Every few years the board would adjust that baseline to meet inflation (or try to make it look as though they were).   It has been common practice to remove those pay scales (called steps) and instead rely on the board to give a raise of percentage to all teachers in that district. 

That means that the teacher that is a warm body, handing out worksheets daily, and the teacher that is devoting their personal time to helping students and is actively helping other teachers improve their craft, both receive identical changes in pay, IF a governing body will approve the raise proposed by the district office.  Since the largest expense of a district office is teacher salary, and they’re scrambling to make ends meet themselves, they’re pretty stingy about offering raises. 

Combine that with inflation and out of control medical insurance premium increases and we suddenly have a situation where a teacher supporting a family is going broke, and fast.

I think we’ve established the lack of connection between compensation and performance.

What about the hope of financially securing a better future?  Can a teacher support a small family by living modestly and still afford a surprise broken water heater, a flat tire, car registration and a trip to the doctor for a toddler with a cough, all in the same month without breaking out a credit card?

I did some research and used this link (https://smartasset.com/mortgage/the-cost-of-living-in-arizona) to calculate the average cost of some basic needs here in Arizona.  Some of these seemed a bit high, others a bit low, but I just went with what I found.

A typical monthly income for a teacher with a family, one that is paying for insurance, is around $1,300 a month.  The average expense for a family of four living modestly in Arizona is $1,840.  Now that family will likely receive some public assistance, might have slightly cheaper auto insurance, might not own a cell phone … but even so, trying to raise a family on a teacher salary would mean living in debt.

I do not believe that is appropriate. 

While people are working on the state to improve teacher pay and also, hopefully, excite some meaningful education reform to remedy the issues that caused this problem to begin with, as well as to improve the experiences of our students, I’m doing something to help.

Arizona’s Working Poor is a nonprofit organization.  Our main function is to find teachers in Arizona that are the sole source of income for a family and give them a gift of $500.  It is not welfare, it is a show of gratitude as well as an apology.  We thank you for what you do, we thank you for the incredible sacrifices you and your family make on the behalf of the greater good of our society.  We are sorry it took us so long to start working to change this thing.

If you’d like to read more about this program, called Giving Back, click here.

If you’d like to help our cause you can find information on our website to do so:  http://arizonasworkingpoor.com 

 

Why I Wear Red for Ed

I wear Red for Ed because education is the cornerstone of the American Dream.  The American Dream is the ability for an individual to “lift themselves by the bootstraps,” and make more of themselves than their original lot in life would have led you to believe possible.  Education can be used as a ticket to a better way of life, a more meaningful, purposeful and thus, fulfilling life.  And education makes this possible for all, not just the rich, which levels the playing field. 

I wear Red for Ed because teachers perform the acts of education.  Administrators administrate.  Politicians … I think we all know what they do.  The large publishing companies lobby the politicians and have created this bloated, yet useless, testing monster that is gutting the quality of the education our youth receive.  It is destroying the American Dream for our youth.

I wear Red for Ed because the politicians and large publishing corporations have rotted the system while lining their pockets all the while.  Yet, they point the finger and blame low quality teaching as the reason for the rotted system they created. 

 

I wear Red for Ed because it touches on a very important issue that goes beyond education.  Red for Ed is an a-political movement.  I believe the politicians and media have pitted us against one another, and we eat it up!  We love the righteous indignation and the validation of seeing others fuming over a policy or action taken in government. 

I wear Red for Ed for the people opposed to the movement.  Tomorrow’s leaders are being educated today.  Tomorrow’s leaders will decide if caring for the feeble and old is worth the financial expense. 

I wear Red for Ed because to do otherwise is to turn your back on the noble causes of education and instead support the politicians and lobbyists that are lining their pockets with our tax money, with the funding and resources that should be used to keep the American Dream alive for those that need it most…our youth.

I wear Red for Ed because I believe in taking care of those that serve us. 

#RedforEd

 

(The #RedforEd movement is an a-political movement in Arizona to raise awareness of low teacher compensation and its ramifications.  Teachers salary in Arizona is the lowest in the nation, and to make it worse, it appears the average salary for Arizona is vastly exaggerated.  The average teacher pay in Arizona, as reported by the state, is approximately $48,000.  However, that is a very suspect number as various administrators and other positions, that are compensated at a much higher rate than teachers, are thrown into that average.  The state average is probably closer to $38,000 than $48,000.)