Today, all across America, teachers are on strike and protesting for higher wages and better benefits. While teachers are the backbone of this country—educating the youth of America and our future leaders and innovators—they do not get compensated enough for the job that they do. While many like to judge those who teach due to the idea that they “work half days” and only “half the year,” it’s actually false information and a myth.
Most teacher’s work days do not end when they leave school. In fact, the majority of teachers spend hours after school grading, interacting with parents/co-workers/administration, planning/prepping, and sometimes even doing after school clubs and activities. However, many teachers are not compensated for this, at all.
One teacher, Hollie Husband, shared her story on Facebook—to combat all of those haters who think her job is “easy” and that she makes more than enough money as a teacher. She wrote:
I am an Oklahoma Educator. My contract generally begins August 1 and ends typically May 31. I am paid for 10 months of the year. I DO NOT RECEIVE a two month VACATION, I am not paid for that time.
My contract is roughly $40,000. That $40,000 includes a fringe benefit of my insurance. I do NOT receive this benefit. It is paid to the insurance company on my behalf for employment. This benefit comes to an estimated $5,500, this makes my contract roughly $34,500 for 10 months, I however have chosen to receive my check over 12 months (more on that in a bit). When I divide $34,500 by 40 it gives you roughly what I earn a week for the 40 weeks I am contracted. That total comes to approximately $863.00 a week. Which means that is receive $21.00 per hour…. IF AND ONLY IF I ONLY WORKED 40 hours per week for 40 weeks of the year.
But let’s now live a day, week, and month in a real teacher’s life….
I have been ridiculously sick since Friday. I stayed in bed Saturday and Sunday and most of Monday (we are a 4 day school week). Finally since I am responsible for 22 students regardless if I am sick or not, I went to the school on Monday. Worked 5 hours in my room working on lessons, making copies, cleaning desks, organizing new centers, test prep because I teach in a do/Die grade, got out our newest Novel study (which by the way I purchased with my own money- 22 copies of A Wrinkle in Time, when was the last time you take out of your own money for someone else at your job?) made sure sub plans were ready, and finally decided to go home because I couldn’t breathe. There is no “I am sorry, Mrs. Husband is out of the office today, please leave a message and someone will return your call no later than the following business day.
On an average week this is what it looks like for all of us over paid teachers, that get paid so well we are paid for a two month vacation…
Monday through Friday: 7:50-3:30
One- 45 minute plan time. That 45 minutes you need to:
A) call disgruntled parents
B- email disgruntled parents
C) grade 22 copies of a reading assignment, spelling assignment, and math assignments, create centers/ hands on activities for the following day.
D) call DHS, counselors, and/or the Special Ed teacher because this the third melt down of Susie. You know something isn’t right.
E) I just realized my sugar is 52 and I need to eat something.
F) find clothes and shoes for Bobby because his just are not seasonal appropriate.
You’ve spent 15 minutes looking in the clothes closet at the school and nothing fits because he is so small. You ask your next door soul sister/ teacher best friend if she can watch your class for just a moment while you run to town and buy something (she hands you a $10 to help pay for it). You run to tell your principal that you need to run to town for some clothes and she says go (and hands you a $20).
G) Use the restroom again because you may not get another chance til 3:30.
Then you teach, love on, and work those 22 little faces. You require them to give you 100% of their brain, even though… you know they are worried about what will they eat at home? They are thinking if mom and dad are going to be fighting tonight? Who will pick them up? You remind them that they are loved. They are safe. They are wanted….
Finally the bell rings and you are just about at the end of the day. You wait in car line and as the clock ticks…. you still have Sally. Sally’s mom and dad are late everyday. Sally is embarrassed because she knows this is always happening…. you wait and you wait. Never once thinking that this should be overtime.
Finally you are free for the day, but those papers didn’t get graded. When you do you realize that half the class didn’t understand past participle, so tomorrow you need to re-teach it. You really want to see your kids baseball game so you take your papers with you to the ballgame.
Ahhh, finally you are going to sit and watch your kid play… but there is Jamie’s mom. She wants to talk to you non stop about the upcoming test. She also lets Jamie sit with you during the whole game, completely oblivious that maybe you just want to be a mom for a moment…. not ever thinking, this should be overtime since I am having to have P/T conference.
Finally you get home. You are going to enjoy the family…. and the grading…. and the lessons for the following week… but oh wait… Jenny’s parents don’t know how to do the homework, so they call you at 8:30 to let you know they can’t do it instead of just sending a note to school tomorrow….
That’s ok, tomorrow I can use my plan time… oh wait… no I have meetings for my students with disabilities… I can on Wednesday. No Wednesday I need to meet with my building principal during my plan to go over test scores, any students who are still struggling, and what we are doing for maximum test outcomes.
Friday… Friday I will get it all done. Oh, wait… the PE teachers will be gone… you don’t get your plan time.
Guess what teachers do on weekends? Grade, lesson plan, go over students tests, prepare activities and centers for the next week.
Summers off? Well, I have 8 weeks to review and learn the newest objectives. I have 8 weeks to get everything moved in my room after it has been very thankfully deep cleaned. I have 8 weeks to learn backgrounds on 22 new students. To learn to meal plans, new disabilities, new behavior plans, new allergies, and modes of communication. I have 8 weeks to ensure my room is a welcoming, safe, and loving environment for 22 new kids. I have 8 weeks to find items for my classroom. Find ways to fund the items for my classroom that my state says they can no longer afford. I have 8 weeks to attend professional development that is required by my state at my own expense….
So let’s take a look at that big heft salary of mine again!
I still get roughly $34,500 after that fringe benefit. That brings my pay up to a whomping $750 a week with me counting only 46/52 weeks. I know I don’t get a full six weeks off of work. At $750 a week, divided again by approx 60 hours a week…. I would make approx $12 an hour….. now granted!
If I am doing the bare bone minimum of every Oklahoma educator…. I make $12 an hour, with a Master’s degree… and I am funding my own job. I buy my own supplies, I buy my own curriculum, and those items that students cannot afford! Aldi and Hobby Lobby both pay better than this!!!
***Edit for some clarification****
$34,500 is BEFORE TAXES!!!!
Before social security
Before insurance for my children
I am an Oklahoma Educator. My contract generally begins August 1 and ends typically May 31. I am paid for 10 months…
Many people on Facebook agreed and were grateful that someone finally put it all in one piece of writing.
It’s the damn truth that teachers aren’t paid enough. To think of all the money that people bring in for jobs that are far less impressionable and important—its about time that teachers get what they earn and what they deserve.