The following is a submission from an educator as part of the Your Soapbox feature, which explores the experiences of educators in North Carolina through their own words. Check out more first person stories here, or if you are an educator, submit your own.
I’m Over It
I’m a fifth year English teacher in NC. I took some time off to have a kid and spent that time in Massachusetts. If I had converted my license and taught up there, we might never have come back–but childcare was pricey, so I didn’t, and I was homesick, and I came right back to teaching.
In five years I have had no raises, and by switching districts from a higher stipend to a lower one, I’ve actually taken about a $2000/year pay cut by teaching here. When I was pregnant, I was serving on about five different committees, including coaching and prom. I went into early labor before the school year ended, possibly as a result of the stress from teaching. But I came back. I think I might have some form of Stockholm syndrome.
Now I’m on about eight committees at my new school and much happier, as far as the work environment goes. Still very busy, but in a better place. I had a really bad year when I was pregnant as a result of administration and some really difficult students, but I finished as much as I could, and I learned from it. My new administration is super-supportive, and my colleagues are the best. And yet…
I didn’t expect to hear from everyone, inside and outside of education, “Get out while you can.” No one is encouraging me to stay–not with a family to consider, for sure. So it’s coming down to actually making a decision about leaving. Researching graduate schools. Seeing what else I can do. Because when I got my degree, and when I first started teaching, it was all I wanted to do. Now, it’s all I know. And however much I love it, it’s hard to keep doing something that feels like it’s wearing you down, day by day.
I feel like I’ve been betrayed by the state. I feel betrayed by the country–with all the new testing standards and, on all levels, nit-picky details we have to focus on that aren’t simply teaching (learning targets, Common Core, data out the ears, more acronyms than I ever imagined possible). News reports always sound surprised that something isn’t working, and instead of addressing the problems of poverty or consulting teachers (for real, not the symbolic “involvement” in Common Core development), we move on to the next thing that some company is offering.
It almost feels like leaving an abusive relationship.