When I was a little girl, my parents struggled for money. I swore that I would do everything in my power to make sure that my own children never felt that same worry. Then I had a child at eighteen. But I still finished college, earned a teaching credential, and worked my tail off making sure he and his brother had everything they need.
Now, I 've been a teacher for five years. Though it is extremely difficult at times, I love my job. I love everything about it, even the inconvenient things, like IEPs and difficult parents. I often search for the silver lining.
But the basis of anything I do is my own children. My own family. The desire in me to be a teacher, present since 6th grade, has not left.
When I started teaching, I brought home about $2,000 a month. My husband worked too, and we barely survived with daycare costs, and the rent, and groceries, and everything else a young family buys. Today, after five years and 45 units, I still only bring home about $2,900. My husband only barely more than that. Though it feels like I'm whining, when we pay all of the financial commitments upon us each month, we are left with a $500.00 deficit.
Is the government going to bail us out on that $500.00? It's equal to the cut that I suffered last year in my pay- and it means that there is nothing left after the bills are paid. Could we get rid of cable? Sort of. I still have to pay that bill for phone and internet, so I can work from home when the school is closed, like today. Could we get rid of the 9.99 Netflix bill? Sure- in fact, I'm supposed to be doing that.
But we don't have other things to cancel. The mortgage has to be paid. The electricity has to be paid. Groceries have to be bought, and I am left wondering if I should go find another job.
Another job- a supplemental one? Or should I take the friend who offered me a medical assistant job up on her offer and double my salary? What is best for my family?
Should I continue to do what I was born to do? Should I lead my students to their education? Should I continue to inspire them? Or should I pull out of a failing system and cut my losses like a politician- and seek funding elsewhere?
I hate that I have worked for the last ten years of my life on something I may have to give up. Something I am really good at. Something that I wake up in the morning excited to go do, for something that pays the bills better.
They wonder why so many teachers leave the profession in the first five years.
And it seems like people around me, my friends at least, support everything I'm saying.
But the public doesn't. The public thinks I'm over paid, that the summers off and the two week break we just had, and every other school holiday means that I don't work at least as hard (I'd argue much harder) than they do.
It's called a Morton's Fork- when you are faced with a decision in which both choices are equally bad. So how do you choose between the lesser of two evils? And how do you deny your heart?