Sunday, October 02, 2005

Your moment of Math.

Okay, children. It's time to take a quiz. Please clear your desks of all extraneous things (iPods, cell phones, Cliff notes), and focus only on your own work. This quiz should not be difficult, because I am very sarcastic.

1. My yearly raise is now in effect. I received my paycheck, and calculated my take-home raise. The percentage that I figured out was:

a. 10% of my salary--a lovely amount.
b. 1% of my salary--an insult.
c. 1/3 of 1% of my salary--the equivalent of leaving a penny tip at a restaurant. Well, 1/3 of one penny, I guess.

2. My monthly salary raise:

a. Won't cover gasoline expenses for one week.
b. Won't cover one dinner out.
c. Won't cover one jumbo package of diapers.
d. All of the above.

3. My daily salary raise:

a. Won't buy a ghetto cup of coffee at 7-11.
b. Certainly won't buy one Einstein's bagel.
c. Absolutely won't buy one cup of Starbucks coffee.
d. All of the above.

4. I work as a freelance teacher at a local university. I can earn my monthly pay raise from my district by working how long at the university?:

a. 5 hours
b. 1 hour
c. 10 minutes
d. 10 freaking minutes!

5. I also make and sell soap. This is a blue-collar type of employment, because I sell my wares at a local farmer's market. I've got to set up the tent, set up the tables, be outside in the elements, etc. I do this once per week, for about 5 hours total. Today was a crappy day at the market, as well. Breaking down my crappy income for today into an hourly wage, how many hours did I have to work today, to equal my raise for the entire month at my teaching job?:

a. 3 hours
b. 2 hours
c. 1 hour
d. 1 freaking hour

6. On a good day at the market, an average day, how long would I have to work to equal my monthly pay raise at the school district?:

a. 2 hours
b. 1 hour
c. 30 minutes
d. 22.8 minutes

7. Judging from all this math, your estimation of my time spent at my various, part-time, freelance and self-employed enterprises, is:

a. it's time well-spent
b. it's time needed to be spent
c. it's about time the school district treated teachers with some goddamned respect
d. all of the above

8. You are now wondering:

a. why anyone would ever become a teacher
b. how anyone continues to teach, what with the crappy salary and all
c. why I am still a teacher
d. all of the above

There, now. How did you do? Of course, the answers are:

  1. c. No, I am not kidding.
  2. d. Again, I'm not kidding.
  3. d. Still not kidding.
  4. d. Hmm. I wonder which job is more fulfilling?
  5. d. And today was a crappy day.
  6. d. Yeah. Selling soap. I shit you not.
  7. d. That's my estimation as well.
  8. d. That's what I'm wondering, as well.

It's become very clear to me that I must become self-employed all the way, in order to make a living in which I can spend some time with my family, and not work so many jobs. It's becoming less and less scary to me to "go it alone." My freelance stuff right now is doing very well. It's not enough to pay all the bills, but my credit card debt is decreasing, month by month. After the market, I sometimes purchase food and literally feed my family with that money. It's very satisfying.

Oh, and something else that pisses me off is this: The idea that, because I'm a teacher and I am supposed to feel so very good about my job, that the salary doesn't matter. It infuriates me when I'm told, in not so many words, that because my job is so fulfulling, that it makes up for a lack of salary. Excuse me? When did my employer become my parent? My family and friends give me love and I feel fulfilled; they show me love, and I feel valued.

My employer is supposed to show that I'm valued by giving me money.


  1. I know it sucks. I occassionally attempt to calculate my worth in the business market assuming there is a job similar in some proportion. And there is it's manager/human resources/counselor/ executive...

    With my level of education I figure I should command a handsome 6 figure salary.

    But, what do I have to give up to get that money? The kids. Which, after working in the private sector (as a hiatus from teaching) and finding it to be mind-numbingly boring. And to be truthful, some clients were worse than kids. I came back.

    That still doesn't mean we should have to take a vow of poverty. There are supposed to be some "quality of life" issues that are intangible benefits of teaching. I'm afraid that as schools have increasingly taken on more duties with severely limited resources, that falls to the professionals in the building.

    Stay strong and good luck no matter what you choose.

  2. Eh, why should they pay you? You're just educating the next generation, after all. How important can that be?

    It's the freakin' short-term mentality in this country. As long as next quarter's sales/stocks are up, what does 30 or even 10 years down the road matter?

  3. Brent,

    The "I'm in it for the kids" mentality is exactly why school districts and essentially all of society can justify to us why they pay us so little. "They'll do it for the kids, and if they don't, we'll make comments that disparage them for 'abandoning' the kids." That mentality is bullshit, and teachers need to get rid of it. Our job is a JOB, not charity.

    You are right that there are intangible benefits of teaching. I am no longer willing to accept them as barter.

  4. Anonymous3:17 PM

    I see your side most definitely.

    That's the irony in a country that supposedly values education but not those dedicated individuals who have the energy and people skills to take on the task of teaching as well as the other pleasantries that go along with it.

    You are right to feel the way you feel. Let's just hope that you and your colleagues (nationwide) can have the salaries you deserve and require to live soon, or else nobody else is going to follow in your footsteps when you retire, and then where will we be? As a private citizen, I'll do the best I can to support my neighborhood schools so teachers can do their job and mold our future.

    I had many good teachers in my life. I wish I had appreciated them more, especially now that I'm a "grownup" and understand more about the mechanics of life than I did back then. I think the underlying similarity for all of them was that they could do a lot with a little, and they worked hard to do the best job they could under those circumstances. I hope things work out for you, no matter what happens in your career path.

    Hang in there!