Teachers on why they teach
September 15th, 2012
09:00 AM ET

Why they teach despite it all

By Christina Zdanowicz, CNN

(CNN) - Fourth-grade teacher by day, adjunct professor and mother by night, Renee Longshore keeps a strict budget and pulls a second income all in the name of teaching.

With her husband's two jobs - he's also a fourth-grade teacher and an adjunct professor - the master's-educated couple makes four incomes. But, money is tight for this family of six.

While Longshore's passion for teaching children helps her overlook her modest life, she sometimes resents her job. She feels under-appreciated by parents at times and like her profession isn't respected.

"My paycheck does not reflect my expertise," she wrote on CNN iReport. "The minimal esteem shown is not warranted, considering my formal schooling and experience. ... But I teach, because that is who I am."

Despite administration frustrations and poor classroom conditions - and for Chicago teachers, a weeklong strike - why do they do it?

Read the full story

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Filed under: iReport • Issues • Teacher Appreciation • Teachers
soundoff (82 Responses)
  1. Lauren

    Here's a plan. If you are one of the people that is constantly complaining about teachers then more often than not you are a parent who constantly undermines what we are trying to do for your child by not working with them or reading with them or flat out ignoring them while you continue to live your life. It would be amazing how successful our country would be if parents treated their children like the gifts they are rather than a burden. We treat your kids that way. So again do us a favor if you are anti-teacher and you "obviously" know it all then by all means home school your kids and good luck to you!

    September 19, 2012 at 10:39 am |
  2. Paul

    I teach at a small Catholic school in the Midwest. Contrary to popular belief, at least where I'm from, private schools have very little money. I teach four subjects a day, physics, chemistry, physical science, and earth science. I use textbooks that are over 20 years old, my chemistry lab does not have running water (pipes are rusted), and I have one white board that is 4 foot long by 3 foot high. Yet the average ACT score in my school is 26.5. Yesterday I was at school at 7am and left school at 9pm after football practice and helping with the volleyball game. Today will be the same as I have PT conferences until 9pm. The only break in my day is a 30 min lunch I each in a cafeteria of high school students. After taxes I make less than $30,000 a year. I absolutely love my job and wouldn't trade it for the world. I'm sure there are thousands of other teachers out there like me.

    September 19, 2012 at 9:11 am |
  3. Andy

    As long as the average pay for a Chicago Union teacher is 2 – 3 times what my mother got teaching in a Catholic high school they will never get sympathy from me. For the teachers out their working for scraps to help teach the next generation this does not apply to you. For the greedy, worthless Union teachers on the Chicago political machine payroll shut up already no one cares that your $75k salary and 16% raise wasn't good enough for you. While we are at it.... can some of those dedicated teachers who are working for $35k please come to Chicago? We need you!

    September 18, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
    • Jim

      Your mom didn;t have to buy pens, paper, pencils, notebooks, etc. for her students because the private school charged the parents for it. Public school teachers spend up to 5% of their salary on their students. And the "tax break" for doing it doesn't even come close, so don't go there.

      September 18, 2012 at 8:24 pm |
    • Lauren

      WHat is not taken into account are the countless supplies purchased and the trials that we have to deal with on a daily basis. I spent of my personal money over 200 dollars on supplies. I also have a spectrum of 3rd grade reading levels to 12th grade. In the 51 minutes I have a student must try to overcome a horrible upbringing and poor reading skills. Teachers deserve so much more because we do it no matter what. The politicians are the ones whom we should be going after. They make 4-5 times as much as the average teacher and do half the work. They constantly underperform on their job yet they never get questioned about their pay. Also we make enough money to survive yet most of us have more education than people running this country. SO BACK OFF!

      September 19, 2012 at 10:33 am |
  4. lance corporal

    teachers are subsidized by the liberal/gay agenda to brainwash our children
    they don't need the money because obama pays them under the table with money from his muslim controllers
    teachers are communist thugs teaching our children to hate america and have unnatural s e x

    wait is someone recording this???????????

    September 18, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
    • seeshel

      Awesome conspiracy theory! Get a grip! You need to be educated.

      September 19, 2012 at 9:26 am |
    • Lauren

      You need to up your meds.

      September 19, 2012 at 10:34 am |
  5. Arlen

    Almost every person here that is bashing teachers have an ax to grind because they can't see past their own failings. Stop blaming teachers for your lack of success. Now you.re mad because they took my social security away.

    September 18, 2012 at 9:00 am |
  6. eduardo

    For those in the real world that are not paid hourly, we seldomly work 40 hours. I work 50-60 hours and if I have a tight dealine I can work weekends to make it happen. My job can be outsourced at anytime. I get a 4% match for my 401k but its up to me to save every penny I have so II can try to retire with some income. As far as making 31k-35k for first year teachers, what do they make after 5, 10 , 15 years, plus a guranteed retirement.

    Makes me want to be a teacher. 2-3 months of a year, guranteed retirement, no performance reviews.

    The solution is to get rid of the over paid teachers and administrators and give the younger teachers the jobs.

    September 18, 2012 at 8:20 am |
    • Chris

      Eduardo,

      At year 5, I will still be making about 38,000 a year. Salary freezes have become the norm in most school districts. At year 10, I believe it will be around 45,000. The only way to get a bump past that is to get another degree. Doing that is more expensive than the raise it brings is worth.

      No performance reviews? You haven't been looking at the right information. I get reviewed at a minimum of 3 times every year, and if I have 2 bullet points (out of 30 throughout the year) at an unsatisfactory level, my job is at risk.

      I'm not sure what you think about education, but I am one of the younger teachers. The 2 months in the Summer is great...except I spend a very good portion of that at my school preparing for the coming year. I spent 65 hours at school last week, and will probably spend more here this week.

      I do not claim that teaching is the hardest job in the world. But where do people feel that they can make a value judgment on my profession with no experience in it? That's great that you feel your job is difficult and you contribute to the world as a whole. Does this lessen my job's value? I think not.

      September 18, 2012 at 9:08 am |
    • badcyclist

      Eduardo: If it's so easy, be my guest– be a teacher.

      You clearly have no idea what teachers do, how hard they work, or how many hours they put in a week. If you ever went to school, you surely weren't paying attention.

      September 18, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • Serious Teacher

      It is an serious error to say that teachers do not work a full week. I am not just a teacher when the students are in front of me, nor am I just a teacher when I am inside the school building. My work day is typically 12 hours long. In order to properly plan for each individual student's needs, evaluate their understanding, complete administrative paper work, record their progress, and search for new resources, I work a significant amount past dismissal time. Most teachers do. The time I spend with students is spent on instruction. It is not the only time I spend as a teacher. As for pay, my school district is in a financial emergency. Each of our teachers has loaned $10,000 to the district to help pay its debts, even though none of us participated in the misuse of funds. Those decisions are made by administrators. We were then given a 10% pay cut imposed by the district for four years (we are currently in year two). When all is said and done, I will have given my employer $38,000 to assist the district in righting the ship. I am very good at my job and have had offers to move on to a more stable work environment. I stay here because of the children. How many posting on this board are committed to the children in their community? People do a lot of talking, but are they putting their own funds on the line to fix the problem? Are they volunteering in their neighborhood school? Are they attending school board meetings? Heck, are they even attending their own kids' parent/teacher conferences? All ideas are welcome, but be a part of the solution.

      September 18, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • MDR

      It always amazes me how ignorant the public in general is. Let’s see, I work a minimum of 60 hours each week just to stay afloat, we ALL have to. Few in private business do, and if they do their pay certainly reflects it. After 14 years of teaching with 2 masters degrees (paid for by me) my salary is $47k per year. I teach at a local college two nights a week to boost income, and summer is spent doing everything from scoring AP tests to conferences and yes some welcome relieve from a job with incredible demands. I chose this, came from a business background, and you have no idea the complexities of this profession.

      So, eduardo, your post is at 8:20am, why are you not working? I was there for two hours already, one hour before the start of school, and 1 1/2 classes out of 7 done.

      September 19, 2012 at 6:10 am |
    • seeshel

      Get rid of the experienced teachers. Really!?! Very short sighted of you. I hope that when you are a veteran teacher, with valuable experience, no one "gets rid" of you.

      September 19, 2012 at 9:24 am |
  7. George valachi

    I wonder why they didn't mention the salary the 2 whiners in the article are paid or how many hours a year they really work. Having worked for a school board do not be tricked by hearing about the base salary. There are other things that add into the pay. Give up a free period to manage a study hall = more money. Teaching is not as bad as these whiners would lead you to believe.

    September 18, 2012 at 8:17 am |
    • Jim

      Not true. And the few activities that do pay more, pay a pittance. You'd be better off at WalMart. They don't do it for the money. The hours of prep, grading homework, etc. is crazy. And the summers are not free time–that's planning time for the following year–because the few minutes during the day you get to plan are eaten up by IEP meetings, staff meetings, this and that that suddenly comes up with your students, etc. If you want to plan–get to school an hour early and stay several hours late.

      September 18, 2012 at 8:21 pm |
  8. Megan

    Although I respect the challenges of teaching, I am tired of teachers complaining about the difficulties of their jobs. It shows how insulated most public school teachers are, away from the real world where you can be let go of a job for any reason, even if you have no control over it. Are teachers not aware that EVERY job is challenging in it's own way? Most people work long hours with difficult people. Actually, many people would be thrilled to have any job at all. What I find outrageous is that these teachers in Chicago are not only being offered a raise, they are PROTESTING that their raises are not enough! How many people in the private sector are getting automatic raises these days? Very few. If the Chicago Public Schools had an outstanding track record, I would agree these teachers should be paid very well. But the results they produce are dismal and not only do they not want to be held accountable, they want to get a RAISE for failure.

    September 18, 2012 at 5:21 am |
    • Jim

      they wouldn't be complaining if you all weren;t telling them how rosey they have it while you're trying to cut their paychecks and stuff 10 extra kids into their classroom which is already straining with the 30 kids they have now.

      September 18, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
    • Larry

      Unless I missed something, these teachers are required to teach 10 extra days, plus longer days, moving forward under this deal. Argue all day about how rigorous a job teaching is or isn't (and I can tell you from experience that it is a tough job with huge personal sacrifice), but shouldn't the teachers receive a substantial pay raise for the longer work year and longer school days? If your work week in a private sector job is suddenly increased 10%, wouldn't you expect additional pay for that? With that in mind, these teachers have "won" a net 6% increase over 4 years time, or 1.5%/year. Not much, and it won't keep up with the cost of inflation.
      On another note, the Chicago teachers are on the high end of the pay scale compared to other teachers nationally. Inner city schools are often very tough places to work, and supply & demand sets those higher salaries. If Chicago didn't pay more than suburban schools, very few teachers would want to stay there.
      As a number of others on this thread have noted, if you have never taught public school it is likely that you don't have a true understanding of what it is like to be a teacher. Teachers are a "give, give, give" group of professionals who never learned how to say "no" when extra time is needed to help kids.

      September 19, 2012 at 10:54 am |
  9. Sean

    Striking seldom happens here in China, not less teacher strikings. Most teachers teaching in preliminary, middle and middle high schools have a bachelor degree and get paid at a middle level salary, which most teachers consider a decent pay based on their education level. Also lay offs seldom happens here either because the Chinese education policy-Nine-year Compulsory Education-is spread and practiced everywhere. Teachers teaching in colleges and universities enjoy better welfares and are not likely to perform strikings. But I think there is one fundamental reason why teachers in China will never perform large-scale strikings(if any strikes). That is many teachers are party members and being party members means more chances when it comes to promotions, awards and so on. Nobody would be willing to join a strike and take the risk of being ruled out of the party.

    September 18, 2012 at 1:28 am |
  10. The_Mick

    The first caption, unfortunately, gives the impression that teaching doesn't take much time. The average elementary school teacher frequently puts in 12 hour days. The average teacher, despite 2 months off in the summer, works 300 hours per year MORE than the average full-time worker. And the job is one where you are constantly engaged in work – you have to plan hours ahead for when you'll be able to go to the lavatory.

    September 18, 2012 at 12:24 am |
    • fiftyfive55

      actually they are off 3 months a year in summer PLUS all the holidays that nobody in private industry gets.In Chicago,our teachers have been working very short school days for the last 40 years,not 8 hour days but rather 6 hour days because the students had to be dismissed early so gangs wouldnt get them on their way home from school but the teachers seem to have forgotten this fact so I have no sympathy for them,and I'm a union guy

      September 18, 2012 at 7:15 am |
      • seeshel

        It is not 3 months. Teachers are required to work after the students leave for summer vacation and before they return. Most of this time is unpaid. Most teachers work a second job, plan for the school year and attend the mandated college courses (that we pay for ourselves). Without the summer months, we would be unable to maintain our certifications and expand our knowledge base to teach your children. The extra hours spent are grading paper, planning, attending meetings and workshops, advising clubs (without pay), tutoring (without pay), etc. How many other "professionals" work extra hours for zero compensation? It is expected of a school teacher, but a doctor, attorney, or dentist would never give hours a day extra for no pay. Guess what, most teachers have more education than any other professional in America. I personally have a BA and a double MA. I have had 23 years of college courses to continually improve myself. What do you have?

        September 19, 2012 at 9:36 am |
  11. White Ziggy

    Since the median income in america is around ~$52k for 2 person income and teachers make well over $90k for 2 teacher income +2 months off, stop whining. Learn what others go through..You teach ONE subject, out of a book you dont write...What do you want? 1/2 teach <6th grade..What college grad do you think could NOT do your job? You are getting to be as bad as doctors...Think you are gods gift...

    September 17, 2012 at 11:36 pm |
    • TeachingforLess

      White Ziggy,

      I am a first year teacher teaching math at the high school level. I spent the last six years working as a Naval Officer. I made the career change to teaching because I think it is another honorable way to serve my country. I will make $34,100 this year, $34,900 next year, and a whopping $35,750 in my third year, provided the public doesn't vote (again) to cut teacher pay. I'm not complaining, but these numbers are a far cry from the $90,000 you mentioned. Where did you get that information?

      September 18, 2012 at 5:48 am |
      • White Ziggy

        Your comprehension skills might be why our students are in trouble. I said 2 person income. Thats what the median income is based on , not single person income.

        September 18, 2012 at 8:14 am |
    • Karen

      Wow! How ignorant are you? Come teach just one day! One day! I dare you! Wow! I'm just speechless on how stupid all of you people sound!

      September 18, 2012 at 9:21 pm |
    • seeshel

      Really? You must have failed math. I wish teachers made that much. I have NEVER heard of that kind of income for an educator. Sign me up!

      September 19, 2012 at 9:38 am |
  12. Gonzo2005

    Why do people keep stating that teachers have all this "vacation". It's NOT vacation - it's UNPAID time off - lots of it forced time off with no pay (furlough/shortened school years). We are paid for 185 days per year because that's all that the state can afford. We would all like to extend the school year as all major studies have shown is the number one thing we could do as a country to improve our children's education, but NOBODY WANTS TO PAY TEACHERS FOR MORE THAN 185 DAYS! Every year for the past 8 years I have had my pay as a teacher decrease due to the furlough days, shortened school years, health premiums & co-pays going from $0 for 90/10 coverage to over $500 per month for 80/20 with $50 co-pays, and the elimination of cost-of-living increases. How would private industry or even other government agency workers like it if their 248 day per year salary had 63 days of pay cut?!?! Well, that's exactly how we teachers are paid. Plus, we're pressured to not take other jobs to supplement our mere 185 days of pay because we're supposed to keep our evenings free for parent-teacher conferences (unpaid), open houses (unpaid), game/club duties (unpaid), literacy nights (unpaid), after school meetings 3-4x per week (unpaid), and staff development throughout every summer (unpaid or tiny stipends and the supposed staff development is usually the school system using us to create more standardized tests for them). I keep teaching (over 20 years now) because It is definitely a calling, but I'm sick of non-educators stating that we have all this vacation time when we are not paid at all for those 63 days of the year that everyone else in the U.S. with full-time jobs are paid for - why? - because nobody wants to invest in education anymore!

    September 17, 2012 at 8:06 pm |
    • White Ziggy

      If it is unpaid time off then you are even more overpaid for the time you spend...What other professions avg $45k ($75 in chicago) for 10 months of work? Name em..please god, so i can apply..

      WZ

      September 17, 2012 at 11:37 pm |
      • Idiot Repellent

        Just shut up. You have no idea what you're talking about. If you taught, you'd know. Now shut up.

        September 18, 2012 at 12:09 am |
      • Ashen

        If you feel teachers have it so good, then why don't you become a teacher? I have been teaching now for six years and I have not received a pay raise nor have I ever earned close to $45,000 per year. Currently, I make $38,000 a year and I had to go teach out of country to get this high rate of pay.

        September 18, 2012 at 6:58 am |
      • White Ziggy

        If you have it so bad switch professions...Oh wait, then you will have to do real work..Then you will have to really know what its like to be an "at will" employee. Teachers are one of the highest paid professions PER HOUR. Did you write your text book? Thats what i thought..

        September 18, 2012 at 8:17 am |
      • Chris

        @White Ziggy:

        If you work in tech, did you write the code for the computer you are sitting at? If you work in business, did you code PowerPoint for your presentation? If you are an editor, did you write the dictionary?

        Of all that you have said, demeaning teaching because we have not written the textbook is your absolute worst example to have brought up twice. I would be willing to bet my job (yes as a teacher) that those who wrote the textbooks you speak of though did in fact have teachers who taught them how to read and write. Who taught them how to do the math needed for upper sciences and maths.

        Absurd. Tell me your interaction with education and how you are so "expert" at it, and then I will take your opinion into consideration. I do not make a value statement towards whatever it is that you do, as I can only assume that you find it more important than educating the future of our country. Which is fine by me. But at least if you are going to denigrate the profession that will train the people who make your life easier down the road...use an example that makes any sense at all.

        September 18, 2012 at 8:53 am |
  13. Bazoing

    Why they teach despite it all: How about they could not get one third as much flipping burgers? And there are no bugger flipping jobs open?

    September 17, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
  14. ronjayaz

    Censored again by fascist CNN. See my Facebook.

    September 17, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
  15. ronjayaz

    As retired teacher who liked the idea of teaching and all it entails, I began as a candidate in 1952 in a special school for teachers and took all the funky education courses that supposedly wud make me a better teacher. Then 1954 came along and the SCOTUS 9-0 jarred America awake that we had been living in an unfair world-segregation! Teaching wud never be the same & our curriculum for the next two years never matched the reality that we wud really face. The South bused the semi-literate, segregated blacks to the North and chaos resulted. My first school was a almost all black and segregated NYC by the neighborhood. Obviously, the SCOTUS got segregation wrong by confining it to education. It shud have been ALL segregating situations. The chaos that resulted was the refusal of Americans to accept the reality any more than South accepted Emancipation after the Civil War. WE have never recovered from that 9-0 decision.

    September 17, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
  16. bln

    Teaching is a noble career. Transferring knowledge from one generation to the next is in the best interest of a society. However, it seems (at least in the US, among the privileged class) that certain knowledge/(levels of knowledge) needs to be kept from the un-moneyed masses. IF you want to see a true change in education, force everyone to send their children to public school, and make college available to the most academically qualified, regardless of income.

    September 17, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
  17. workinghardwithhumanbeings

    I don't object to being evaulated. I object to being evaluated on someone else's performance on a test. Many kids don't see any real reason to try on these tests, because there aren't a lot of careers post-highschool just waiting for them and college is financially unreachable. What reason do they have to perform well? I have plenty of examples of times when connecting with a kid took precedence over nouns and verbs, because they are human beings. There are many elements of testing performance that are beyond my control, and it is unfair to hold me accountable for things that I cannot touch. I cannot tuck them all in bed to be sure they got eight hours of sleep, or make them breakfast, or shush their parents when their voices are too loud during a family fight the night before. If I could control things like this, it would be different.

    September 17, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
  18. Jasper

    Far too long we teacher have suffered in silence not demanding and requiring the respect and pay we deserve. Our thoughts are we are here for the kids just go to work and do our best maybe it will get better. To those making negative comments when was the last time you have been inside a classroom. I bet when you were a child well I have to share something with you; it is so so different… Just try to see it from our point of view. How can you hold only me accountable for a student’s test scores? I cannot hold the child or parent or even my school with our overcrowded classes, lack of discipline and consequences for our students ACCOUNTABLE. I cannot make a child do homework bring their assigned books or materials to class. I have seen students draw happy faces on their test another bubbled all letter “A” another did connect the dots. Since you want to hold me accountable and base my evaluation on these students and several others like this, let us hold the parents accountable as well. Our society passes our students to the next grade even if they fail their classes and have not done the required work. We are afraid to discipline our students and put our foot down but you want to use the classroom teacher as the scapegoat and blame only us. If students are failing our classes due to lack of required work. The administrators blame us. I should not give homework since this is causing a student to fail, it’s my fault, I need to change what I am doing so I water down the curriculum so the students can pass and not have parents and administers complain that students are not getting an A or a B. Parents and society just because you bully us into giving good grades does not mean your child is getting a good education or leaning responsibility and consequences. I offer extra credit I call parents and I offer afterschool tutoring for FREE I am off the clock. I still cannot make a student or parent participate but again it’s my fault. You as a society want to base my evaluation on situations that I have no control over. I asked my class what makes a good teacher a student replied, “a teacher is not afraid to discipline”. I asked for clarification from the student he told the class that last year his class was bad and the teacher tried to discipline, the class did not like it and told their parents and got the teacher in trouble. The student went on to say that the teacher did not want to get fired so they did not discipline anymore. Even our students realize their teachers are not respected and are powerless on all levels. Anyone who would like to criticize a teacher or think they have a solution, first have a real conversation with a teacher. Come teach our class for two-three weeks then we can have a conversation. Help us teachers, without a doubt there needs to be reform. Teachers who are on the frontline are an integral part of the reform conversation, not only policy makers or administrators who are sitting behind their doors who are so out of touch with teaching. Thank you CHICAGO TEACHERS for stepping up and making demands for our students and our teaching profession. Mr. Emanuel you have such disregard for the teachers of Chicago and our profession as a whole shame on you. Step up and support us teachers on all fronts.

    September 17, 2012 at 12:48 am |
    • Tom

      Jasper, I'll ask you the same question you asked us. When was the last time you worked for a company where you only had 2 weeks vacation a year. Where you were arbitrarily evaluated by your boss and any raise or promotion was 100% directly tied to that evaluation. Where you paid the majority of your health care premiums out of your pocket, because that is what your employer said you do. This is how most of us live.

      September 17, 2012 at 7:58 am |
      • Darth Cheney

        Tom, the profession you are describing would draw the "best and brightest" from our high schools in droves to major in education, and not engineering or business. That does not happen. The profession you are describing would result in hundreds of thousands leaving successful careers to do even better as overpaid, under-worked teachers. That does not happen.

        In short, if what you are saying is true, then both elite college students and professionals would be 'voting with their feet' into education. Because they are not, what you are saying is simply not true. It's especially interesting that it's tea baggers such as yourself who make these absurd statements, while hardly any of you are drawn to education despite your pumping it up as some kind of high life.

        September 17, 2012 at 11:32 am |
      • Bazoing

        I hope you do not think that teachers work only 30 hours a week and then get two or three months off. The fact is that they have to grade and prepare a lot more than 40 hours, not all at the school. Then they have to take all sorts of classes during the summer to maintain their licenses. It is a hard job that requires special talents. The classroom crowding is the real problem. On the other hand they are reasonably paid. The teacher's unions are the worst unions I have seen in many ways including the fact that they campaign for higher wages all the time, but rarely for class sizes which would benefit the children.

        September 17, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
      • Michael

        @Tom... Actually Tom, I have worked both, as a teacher in Florida and the IT field, working for a Fortune 500 company. In IT, I worked 40-50 hours a week with 3 weeks of paid vacation and the option to buy 2 extra weeks off. In just my 2nd year with the company I was already making twice as much as when I was a teacher with 6 years of experience; I had to leave teaching because my wife and I could not afford a house as teachers (combined income was under $55,000, she had Masters degree with 10yrs teaching ($29,900) and I had Bachelors with 6 yrs ($24,400)). Mind you, this was 1999, but the salary as not that far off now as cost of living has gone up by more than the average teaching salary.

        You and many others are profoundly confused by this issue as you seem to think teachers will get a “real” bonus on top of our “stellar” pay. Let’s compare; my bonus in IT was linked to my performance and on top of that, I wrote my performance evaluation. We received stock options as well as a nice yearly raise. My bonus as a teacher IS NON EXISTENT, except for the fact that I get to hear everyone else say how easy we have it. Merit pay in education is based on factors that teachers cannot control. The standardized tests are NOT given for a grade; therefore, some students see little value in trying real hard on them. Also, if we are looking at an “average student score”, Special Ed students are taking these tests so their scores will not be very high. If we were looking at average student increase in score, the top achievers do not increase and your evaluation still is skewed. These are the items my pay is to be linked to that? For some reason people don’t get that these test scores are comparisons to others taking the same test. Every few years the tests are rewritten and then a new baseline is created. It would be almost like saying that if your kids I.Q. doesn’t improve, they are not getting smarter.

        My raise in education, from 1994-1999, was a total of $3,000. THAT’S TOTAL!!! I received more than that in the first 9 months in IT as the company stated that my base pay needed an adjustment to meet the market value of my job description. Also, in IT my company paid me to go to trainings ON COMPANY TIME to obtain higher certification so that I could be a better, more productive employee. In education we pay out of pocket on our own time just to maintain the honor of being able to work for you and educate your children.

        Another misconception is that teachers line up for extra duty (coaching) because the money is good. We do these things, not just because we enjoy them, but they need to be done. If no teacher applies for a coaching position then the principal actually has the right to “assign” the position to a teacher. I coached basketball for the school I taught at and averaged $5.75 an hour (I worked 359 extra hours, outside of the “duty day” during basketball season). We also had practice during Christmas break which nullified the “vacation” time you, and others, seem to harp on so much.

        I, and the rest of my colleagues in IT, was outsourced and I am back in education. When I returned to teaching I realized that missed making a real difference in lives. It is a difficult, selfless and demanding job that produces futures, and the shame is that that is completely overshadowed by the bean-counters point of view stating education is drain since there is no apparent dollar value attached to the return on investment.

        And by the way… most of us don’t just teach one subject. My first year back in education had me teaching a class of P.E., a class of U.S. History, two classes of World History and a class of Business. If you work for a big business please try working an hour in Marketing, an hour in H.R., an hour in IT and two hours in shipping. Do this for 196 days without killing your company and having others have to pick up the slack, all while coaching a little league t-ball team and spending time with your family and come back and tell me you know what teaching is like. Or, take your vacation time and go to the closest public school and sub in the same class for 2 weeks; create the lesson plans, grade the papers, meet with parents and take the blame for not being able to motivate someone else’s kid. You may then come back and talk your $h!t about teachers.

        Sorry this is so choppy but I started it on my planning period, got about 4 minutes to add to it during my 40 min lunch and did not look at it until after I was done coaching the golf team.

        September 18, 2012 at 4:50 am |
      • seeshel

        Tom, I have been teaching for 23 years. I have watched my paycheck dwindle year after year. I receive exceptional evaluations, so by your measure, I should be getting a raise. I am looking at another 12% pay cut. Health care?!? I have to pay more than anyone I personally know. I can not even afford to insure my own child. I had to give that responsibility to her father, who works for a privately owned company. He pays 63% less than I do for health care. I think that you need to realize that the system for teacher compensation varies quite a bit. I am a public school teacher. Each district negotiates their own contracts. Therefore, you must understand that when you hear that teachers make an extraordinary amount of money or have little or no responsibility for their insurance, you have to take it with a grain of salt. I have not had a raise in 7 years. Not even a cost of living increase and as you know, the cost of living has changed in 7 years. Instead of standing on your soap box without all of the facts, be proactive and work to improve what we can for our children and those who are trying to give them an education.

        September 19, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
    • Heidi

      Well said

      September 17, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
    • ET

      Jasper...you are absolutely correct! My father was a teacher...said it was the best thing he ever did. Didn't start teaching until he was 40 years old. He loved it and loved the students...ALL the students. He particularly loved the troubled students and tried to help the struggling students. He also was upset at the administration and policies that just "passed" the students throught every grade. By the time he got them in 11th grade there wasn't much he could do if they weren't reading properly or writing properly (he taught geography/social studies/sociology) but he DID try his own way of making a difference in their lives. Many teachers put in time that noone sees...time they are not paid for! I don't know what is more important than educating the future of our country? My father wasn't in it for the money. At the time, teachers didn't make much money. He loved teaching students...but for his committment and time and for the many others that are committed, they should be commended and compensated. This is an important job for the future of our country and we are NOT producing smart students anymore. On another note, I work at a school (not as a teacher) but I see how much time teachers put in. They DO work in the summer, when they are technically not being paid to work...but they do because they are working on their rooms, lesson plans, new curriculums, training, etc. They stay late to help students, meet with parents, collaborate with each other regarding students, go to student functions out of school...I could go on. Being the child of a teacher, I saw first hand the caring that my father had for his profession and it wasn't for the money or the time off! He even taught summer school every summer for extra money to take us on vacation. He was always working at something he loved but he never laid around with his "time off" and lived the "high life" with his huge salary because there wasn't one raising a family of four. He was just happy that he felt he made a difference in some of those kids lives...and I know that he did because many of them came to his funeral and told me so. Not only that, he had a huge impact on my life and my appreciation of his efforts and passion for teaching. Teachers deserve much more than they get and I don't just mean salary...I'm talking respect and appreciation for what they do. I am writing this in honor and memory of Don Kelly...my hero!

      September 18, 2012 at 9:17 am |
  19. John Coriea

    I think they teach because the pay and quality of life is much better than regular jobs. Teachers make more than what a large majority of Americans make, but hey it's not enough....so let's STRIKE.
    If it was about the kids, they would be at school TEACHING the KIDS but most of them are hypocrites. It's all about their money and benefits while they make fun of bankers, politicians and Republicans. The irony

    September 16, 2012 at 11:29 pm |
    • Name*eilatan cajazz

      As the child of two teachers, I can tell you have no clue about education today. Teachers are sent "The best the parents have" and in most instances the children are so educationally bankrupt that it is a major feat in Urban school systems like Chicago if the children can follow two step directions. Next fac
      tor in your special needs children who are in need of extra one on one care and then finally your children with emotional disorders,this is the class you are to work with.Now factor in that you are not allowed to punish children for poor behavior or fighting or any disruptions. I implore you if you think they are overpaid join an alternative certification program and come in and help, or close your mouth and let my family do right by their children.

      September 17, 2012 at 9:03 am |
    • Michael

      The real irony is that, in Chicago, they are really upset that they have to deal with their kids since their "babysitting" service has had enough abuse and walked out.

      September 18, 2012 at 4:56 am |
      • bln

        I agree that in many ways that the educational system in the US has essentially become a "baby sitting service" with incidental educational value. That said, I do remember lots of teachers that really did try to give me and my school mates a working knowledge of the subjects that they taught. Given what I know now, I wish they had caught/(paid attention to) the learning disabilities and the effects of child abuse(ADD, dyslexia, Traumatic Brian Injury, Post Traumatic Stress
        Disorder, etc). Perhaps things are different now and children at risk are referred to people that can help them. Unfortunately, teachers have no control over what happens in the home. If the parent(s) can't give a damn, then there is little the teachers can do.

        September 18, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
    • seeshel

      How much education do you have? I have a BA and a double MA. What is that worth? I help develop the most precious American gift – the future. Stop speaking from your soap box. If you are so concerned go back to school and get the degree or volunteer in a local school. Immerse yourself in the situation you seem to think that you know so much about. Once you understand what you are truly dealing with, then your comments will be welcomed.

      September 19, 2012 at 12:34 pm |