With great sadness today, I signed my teaching contract for next year. I love my job. I love my classroom and my students. I love my district and the many caring educators who pour their hearts into teaching kids. My district has fought hard to keep the state budget cuts from decreasing teacher pay checks. We’ve had salary freezes and many cuts to classroom budgets, but my pay check has never gone down before. This coming school year, I will pay an additional $600 to have healthcare benefits. Additionally, they raised the annual out of pocket cost from $2000 to $4000. For those of us planning to start families soon, that will be a significant cost increase. I will be paying more for less insurance. I know that I am not alone. Teachers are getting poorer in this state. My district produced plenty of research about other districts making similar decisions to pass insurance cost to teachers. But teacher benefits have always been one thing that helped me feel better about our meager salaries. I’m sure that many school districts thought that these many cuts to Arizona education were only temporary…but this nightmare continues to get worse annually. My district may offer a 1% pay increase “to offset the insurance cost change” (for all of those teachers making $60K….said no teacher EVER!) However, the board has postponed the vote until after the state budget is finalized because they fear cuts ahead.
So I ask–where are the TEACHERS? How can you continue without a voice? I went to a meeting about this on Monday and there were less than 10 people there. Apparently, there was a similar turn out at a meeting the previous week. Why do teachers feel so powerless to say that these things make us sad? I’m sad. I’m sad that teachers I know are leaving because of the decreased morale. I’m sad that these things agitated our school campuses the week before the big (invalid, meaningless, corrupt) state AIMS test. I’m sad that teachers from other states are planning to move back home. I am sad about the early career teachers who don’t think they have what it takes to continue in this broken system. I’m sad that these things damage the profession and decrease the population of experienced teachers teaching kids. I’m sad that these things create vacancies in my district of kids who deserve the very best teachers possible. And I am sad that teachers are not out there in DROVES telling people about the sad things that are happening in education. I am sad, once again, to see the door swinging as more people I care about abandon this profession.
Where are you teachers? And what are you doing to share your stories?