So many pundits have tried to frame the war on unions and collective bargaining rights as being “all about the money” for the teachers and other public workers being affected. Teaching has never been about the money, but right now, money is a big part of it.
As a first-year teacher, my take home pay is somewhere in the low- to mid-$20,000s. Not a ton of money. Definitely not enough for me to be considered “greedy” like some of these politicians would have you believe.
The veteran teachers that I work with aren’t exactly rolling around in luxury, either. The math teacher who has been here for 30 years drives to school in a Honda Accord, not an Escalade. They live in a modest home, not a sprawling villa or luxury apartment. They shop at Kohl’s, not Burberry.
30 years in the field, and you still only make a decent-but-modest living. That’s fine, the allure of the education field was never the paycheck. I got into the field because I wanted to share my passion for music with students, and to help sculpt the creative young minds of tomorrow.
That said, it would be nice to keep making a living wage while doing what I love. Once you factor in rent, auto insurance, food, gas, phone bill, and other miscellaneous expenses, there’s not a lot left over to stick in the bank. And the politicians would like us to have even less while at the same time giving huge tax breaks to wealthiest 1% of this country.
Isn’t cognitive dissonance fun?
Some of you will retort, “Fine, keep your salary but start contributing more to your fancy health care plans.”
A good health care plan is our security blanket. Depending on the size of the school, the average teacher will have hundreds, possibly thousands of interactions during the course of a seven hour school day. That seems like an awful lot of illnesses, and it’s pretty nice to have that quality health care plan in place when you have students with bronchitis and laryngitis waltzing into your classroom.
Even with all that in mind, I’d be more than willing to sacrifice some salary or benefits…so long as Governor Snyder and his fellow politicians are willing to make the same sacrifice.