Sunday, April 19, 2009

Monetary Value

The complaint that teachers are not paid enough can be heard far and wide on any given day. I tend not to engage in the discussion because 1) I put very little value in money and the need to gain more of it and 2) the worth of my job has always exceeded it's monetary value.

At some point though, you have to be practical. Without divulging too much of my own financial situation, let's just say that on a teacher's salary it is actually IMPOSSIBLE for a single young teacher with 4 years of undergraduate loans to pay rent/mortgage on their own in the Chicago suburbs and still be able to eat at the end of the day. I have run the numbers a million times and I can not grow something out of nothing. It is for this reason alone that I am adopting roommates this summer.

Roommates are fine, pinching pennies is fine...but what about everything else? What if there is an emergency? A hospital bill or a car breakdown? I'm pretty sure that I need my health to teach and a car to get to school every day. And even more than than, what about living life? Experiencing new things, going new places, and (inevitably) paying for them?

My friend and I have been trying to plan a trip this summer. We don't ask for much, but it is important to both of us to go to a Spanish speaking country to further our Spanish skills (which is a direct benefit to our students and parents upon the return of a new school year). We have a limited window of time in which to go (because financial constraints dictate my need to teach summer school) and limited funds on which to travel. We even looked into service projects in other countries where you can stay with a host family and found their costs to be almost twice as much as a regular vacation.

The point is, my story is not different from any one else's. In fact, I'm sure others have incurred unfortunate expenses that I couldn't even dream of. But money is not important to me. If someone else needs it and I have it, I don't bat an eyelash in offering it. I just want to be able to live life...and the monetary value applied to teachers doesn't cut it.

The problem:

1. Good teachers will feel devalued and believe less in the importance of what they do.
2. Good teachers will not be able to further their education (whether it be through travel or graduate level courses) which directly impacts the students they teach.
3. Good teachers will burn themselves out taking on second jobs or working all summer.
4. Good teachers will walk away.

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