I applaud my friends and family who stood up for teachers.
First, my friend Tiffany, linked me to this diatribe on teacher pay.
Then, after watching her profession come under attack all day by her daughter's "friends," my mom weighed in and blew all of our socks off. I almost cried when I read this and I have to say how PROUD I am to have been raised by this woman. We've had MANY differences and disagreements over the years, but this is truly amazing. If my facebook wall had a "slow clap" feature, Mom would've totally set it off:
When you say things like "... the average teacher makes $50k per year, with three months of vacation time, during which time they can make more money. It doesn't even mention the fact that most teachers retire comfortably in their mid- to late 50s, a good decade before the general public," it's clear that you have no idea what really goes on with educators.
Yes, it's easy to simplify with a statement like that, but the reality is that salary is based on an 8 hour/185 day a year contract. I challenge you to find any teacher that works an 8 hour day, 185 days a year. Most of my colleagues show up at school around 6:30 a.m., work a full day with the students, stay 'til around 5 or 6 p.m., at which time they take work home with them, unless they have to stay late for school programs or a parent conference.
Oftentimes, phone calls to parents and home visits are made in the evenings. If the parents are divorced, those calls/visits must be made twice - one to each parent. Staff work days are spent in professional development classes, often paid for out of pocket. Materials for things such as bulletin boards, snacks for the kids who come to school without having had breakfast, personal hygiene items for those who go without, and clothing and shoes for kids who's parents can't afford them are paid for by teachers.
I myself have driven kids to the eye doctor, taken sick children home, paid for field trips, bought winter coats and boots, backpacks and pencils, contributed to Thanksgiving baskets...the list goes on and on. I'm not saying this to toot my own horn - in fact, I think you'd be hard pressed to find a teacher who DOESN'T do these things.
Our "three month vacation" is actually MUCH LESS, when you consider the fact that most teachers are paid for ONE day to clean up their classrooms before (as I would imagine you think) dancing out the door to enjoy doing nothing - or god forbid trying to make ends meet by taking a second job - all summer long. The reality is, most work for at least a week afterward because custodial staff has been cut and things like scraping hardened snot off the bottoms of desks and chairs, or shampooing the puke stains out of the carpet are left up to us. It's not unusual to see teachers return to prepare their rooms for the upcoming school year in early to mid-August. And the "vacation time" you talk about? Not really - professional development is required by many states for recertification. Classes must be taken, papers written, homework done, materials bought, again out-of-pocket.
As for the "I pay your salary" argument? Are you kidding me? Keep in mind that WE PAY TAXES, TOO! People seem to forget that. I also pay for YOU to use the highways, get your drivers' license, take the bus. You do not belong to an exclusive taxpayers' club. We ALL belong!
I am NOT your servant - I am a public employee, I work WITH you. Without me, and others like me, we would all be much worse off than you can even begin to imagine.