My husband and I just finished our first week back to school for the 2017/18 school year, and we are exhausted! I slept for twelve hours last night. I am back in 1st grade for the third year in a row, and Al is now working in an ESE classroom, which is a huge challenge, and takes a lot of patience. Each year seems to take more energy and more money.
When I started teaching, I was in love with the profession. I always wanted to be a teacher when I was growing up. I remember being 5 or 6, and playing school with my friends. My mother taught me to read before going to kindergarten. By the time I got to college, I was having second thoughts, and delayed making my decision, but I finally made the decision to go that direction. Through all of the positions I’ve had, I have loved my students and the challenges presented to me each day. But it’s harder now. Financially, it’s killing us.
What can be done to help those of us who are struggling financially? We have all heard the testimonies of teachers who spend their own money to resource their classrooms. Some of us know about how high the health insurance premiums for educators are, and the health risks of being an educator. My own district right now is at an impasse over our contracts from last year, denying us a raise of any value. What happens with this is that when our insurance premiums go up (they do every year), our take home pay goes down because the minimal raises we receive don’t cover the cost (we worked all of last year with no raise so far). I made less money last year than the year before, and will most likely make less this year than last. Currently, I make what I made twenty years ago, and was able to support a family of five. Now that it’s just the two of us (and an aging dog), it isn’t enough because everything is more expensive. It isn’t a unique situation. It happens all over the United States. A lot of teachers have extra jobs just to pay the bills. Professionals having to tend bar, wait tables, or work at a big box store to make ends meet should not be happening.
One solution that would help this is for teachers to receive educator discounts, much like the military or senior citizens. And before anyone comes at me for being anti-military, stop right there. I’m not saying that the military doesn’t deserve it. They do….but so do we. Some places, such as book stores, have an educator discount, but sometimes there are stipulations that it has to be spent on educational items. Sometimes during Teacher Appreciation Week, restaurants might offer a discount to teachers. Why should there be any restrictions on how we receive the discounts? There are no restrictions on military or senior citizens. Many times, I’ve been asked by a cashier if I’m “military” for a discount. I tell them I’m not, but I ask about an educator discount. They look at me with a blank stare, and tell me there isn’t one, but then agree with me that there should be.
Without teachers, there is nothing. There is no military, no law enforcement, no medical or legal profession. Why don’t we deserve discounts on retail, restaurants, insurance, utilities, auto financing, and home mortgages? We deserve it! Teachers are the hardest working people I know. We should not have to have second jobs to just stay afloat. There should be educator discounts across the board, for anything we spend, much like the military. I promise it will not break any company to do this, and will most likely help their business if they show respect to our profession. We earn it. We deserve it. We NEED it.
I am going to be asking businesses and companies to start offering educator discounts. I am inviting other educators and individuals to join me in this. Let’s start showing respect for this profession, and those who dedicate their lives to it.