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Friday, April 01, 2011

What are you people smoking?

I feel like it's time to step up and set the record straight on a few things that seem to be muddled in the public eye. Within the past 3-4 months, teachers are getting slammed, and I mean SLAMMED in certain states up north. Wisconsin and New York, I'm looking in your direction.

This is on top of the typical derision that US teachers seem to receive. As if teaching and getting paid is equivalent to breathing and being famous.

I will admit that I don't often watch the evening news. It's either too depressing, or it's too sycophantic (nuclear spills vs Snooki). But I do watch the Daily Show pretty regularly, so I've seen how the newish Wisconsin governor and the CNN stooges are vilifying teachers. Teachers only work till 2:30? Teachers are paid higher than private sector workers? Teachers receive $40K in benefits??

Um, I certainly don't know any teachers for whom any of those statements are true. And I'm not going to believe it just because somebody on CNN says it. In fact, I wouldn't believe it even if veteran character actor Sam Watterson, who America trusts with investment advice, knocked on my front door to inform me.

On a similar note, I've been receiving emails from a group called Education Action Group. These emails always have some theme of "Look what those evil teachers are trying to get away with now!" According to these emails, teacher unions are either bullying President Obama into giving them concessions, ignoring students' needs to stage strikes, or feeding tainted chocolate to stray puppies.

Listen, Education Action Group, if that IS your real name, take me the frick OFF your list! I'm not interested in drinking your Kool-aid! I have no idea how I ever got on your mailing list, but we are obviously going to have to disagree to disagree.

Their latest email said that teachers get free health care (certainly not where I work!), excessive benefit packages, and a tremendous amount of paid time off. Fact is, I pay out the butt for my health insurance, and even then, even AFTER I've paid off my ridiculous deductible, it still only pays for 80% of CERTAIN things.

As for the time off, ok, we get the summers off! I just wish people would stop saying that we get 3 months off for the summer! We leave school during the first week of June and go back during the second week of August. That's slightly more than 2 months. Semantics, you say? Hey, I don't accuse my engineering friends of having 3-day weekends every week, when they are really just 2 days.

I'm sure somebody will come along and accuse me of having a "martyr complex," whining about how teachers have it rough. Fine. Accuse away, because if you're doing that, then you're really not someone whose opinion I care about anyway.

I'm not saying that all teachers are blameless or perfect. I know several myself who certainly aren't. But the pundits and armchair quarterbacks of the private sector need to stop turning ALL of us into greedy, overpaid, whining, talentless leeches.

Thus endeth the lesson.


Edna Lee said...


Oh, and as for our "three month" summer vacations, I don't know about you folks in Texas, but I know we teachers in California don't get paid for those "three" months we're not working. In fact, I get paid for the 180 days a year I work, and nothing else. No paid holiday, no paid vacations. Anyone can have three months off WITHOUT pay, just like we do.

I am not one to complain about the money I make. I feel lucky to have a job and can live comfortably on what I bring home. I do think though that people outside education do not understand how our pay structure works and don't care to find out the facts.

HappyChyck said...

Same old story. I wish I knew what it would take to make people see what that teachers are the root of what ails our country.

courtney rebecca said...

Oh I'm with you! I don't understand how people can complain so much about teachers when it is something that they don't understand. Come spend a day with me at school, and then talk to me about how we're overpaid.

HappyChyck said...

Oops! They already think we are the root. NOT! Of course that's what I meant.

Mister Teacher said...

Happy, I was wondering...
Rebecca, no freaking kidding...
Edna Lee, we get 12 paychecks, so I guess we get paid year-round, but the normal pay raises are not nearly enough to cover rising cost of living expenses. I see those commercials on TV for needing to know your "number" for retirement, and it's always 1 million something, and that makes me cringe. I'll be lucky to sock away $20K by the time I'm 65. :)

IMC Guy said...

Try living and teaching in Wisconsin these days, it's not fun.

I get frustrated frequently with the attacks on our profession. It's as though we have to defend what we do to get the pay and benefits we earn. No other profession gets hammered the way we do.

Anonymous said...

Chad, I've been watching the news (OK, the Daily Show) a lot, and almost all they talk about is the Wisconsin teacher/governor situation. How on earth do they get 38K of benefits for you guys? Do you get completely free health care? Matching 403(b) contributions? Free cafeteria food?