- Posted September 10, 2012 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Teachers: Why do you teach?
Why DO I Teach??
'I don't think that people understand that many non-union teachers (especially those in non-profit private education schools) are on even lower pay scales than union teachers, and we usually don't have the protection that unions provide, nor do we have pension programs, instead relying on our fickle 401k plans for our retirement. And in the case of teaching difficult children who are not suited for public school programs, it seems like we work twice as hard, with less to show for it. Yet there is little choice for us, because these children need an education.'
- dsashin, CNN iReport producer
And so, why do I teach? I teach because I love what I do, and despite losing kids to the judicial system and street violence, there is nothing like seeing them succeed. Having a child who everyone had given up on attain his or her high school diploma is a feeling quite unlike any other in the education field. And I teach because I hope that in some way I will be able to make a difference that may turn around the life of even one of these kids. The odds are against me and the others who teach this population, simply because no matter what we do here, we turn them back to dysfunctional homes, dangerous neighborhoods and easy-money crime, which is incredibly difficult to compete with. But every now and again, we have one succeed beyond expectations--getting into a 4 year college program, being accepted into a work program, being successfully employed and living independently--and within the law--in the community.
I am in my 19th year teaching. I am pretty sure that if I had worked at a retail store or fast food restaurant for this long I would be making considerably more money. Because we do not have a pension program, when I am no longer teaching I will not have a pension to rely on. My 401K has been brutalized through the stock market. I am single, so my measly salary is not one of supplement, but is how I survive. I live and teach in one of the most expensive areas in the US, and live paycheck to paycheck for all intents and purposes. My plans for my retirement future are structured around winning the lottery or, if that fails, working until I die.
It is a financially sad state of affairs for teachers today. I hear all these politicians talk about wanting to make the US number 1 in education, but salaries continue to be sub-par, and budgets and programs continue to be cut. It won't be long before the caliber of teachers will be commensurate with the salaries, which will BOTH suck.