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State Budget Cuts = My Job in Danger

January 9th, 2008 at 04:40 pm

Well, Kentucky needs to balance its budget. That means education funding is about to be cut. Potential staff layoffs, hiring freezes, and other such wonderful things are on the horizon. Letters and memos have already been flooding through the state everywhere from community colleges, to state universities, to high schools: funding is being cut.

I pride myself on being an advocate of the free market. If a company can't compete, it shouldn't receive any help. The people who work in those careers should move on to more productive positions in the economy.

I may be faced with that now. The claim is art, business, home economics, and PE will be cut. Furthermore, I find it hard to believe that the 800+ students in my high school are going to receive English instruction unless there are the same number of English teachers as there are now. I guess I'm trying to say that I'm 70% sure that I'll have a teaching job this coming fall.

I don't like those odds one bit. Maybe I'm completely wrong. Maybe the last thing on anyone's mind is cutting English positions, but I'm the new guy. Other teachers there have houses and kids and tenure.

As I said before, I'm an advocate of the free market. I'll move on if I have to, but I'm not going to fib: it's going to hurt a bit.

This is why I save money. This is why I can't imagine living paycheck to paycheck. I currently have three month's living expenses saved up. With the three months of summer that I'll still have paychecks and insurance IF I don't have a job next year, that's at least six months of living expenses. I could feasibly have ten months in my emergency fund by the time next August rolls around.

It may seem like I'm blowing things out of proportion. I'm just saying that I see a storm coming, and I'm going to be caught right in the middle of it. I stand by my 70% chance of having the same teaching job next year. If I don't get rehired, I'll have plenty of money saved up. I'll easily find employment somewhere else.

Like I said, though, it's not going to be painless.

Teachers, Student Loans, and Salary

January 4th, 2008 at 04:52 pm

I came across an interesting article in a National Education Association magazine. It was all about how the rising price of college tuition is impacting teachers and those who are considering going into teaching. Horror stories of people having up to 80k in student loans and being afraid of going into teaching were plastered all across the pages.

It's no secret that teachers don't make millions of dollars; however, we make a decent living. My starting pay this year was $34,500. If you're not too extravagant, that's a respectable starting salary. After I get my master's degree, I'll be making somewhere around $41,000, with salary for a classroom teacher topping out in the vicinity of $60,000.

Now, we've established that teachers do not make gobs of money, but they definitely don't make rabbit feed. This still leaves the question hanging, however: is it not enough money? Should teachers make more money?

Here's the simple answer: we'll see.

If teachers really are making too little money, fewer people will go into teaching. More current teachers will leave. Teacher quality will depreciate.

Now, this may lead us all to think that this will bring teachers' salaries up. That is not necessarily the outcome. While having fewer quality teachers will definitely harm our civilization, we may allow that to happen. What will determine our teacher quality is what our society ultimately values.

If we truly value education, we will fund it adequately. If we do not value education, no matter what we may claim, we will not fund it adequately.

As an educator, I don't really care which way things go. I love teaching, but if I didn't think I was making enough money, I'd go do something else. How much money I make from teaching is not something I get to decide. For the time being, I'm happy with my lot.

To bring things full circle, I don't think improving teachers' salaries is the answer to student loan debt. It is possible to get a quality and affordable education. I don't know why people are shocked that you can't be a teacher when you have $100,000 in student loans. There are a lot of things you can't do if you have that much in student loans.

DISCLAIMER (to be read aloud so quickly that the words blur together in one fine-print mumble): The above statement in no way means that the author does not appreciate the actions of the wise and venerable NEA in terms of fighting to put more cold hard cash in his pockets. Actually, the author applauds all such efforts and heartily wishes the NEA and all of its member-affiliates the best of luck in every valiant and noble quest they decide to undertake.