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.
My Personal Education Story
As an NC educator I feel demoralized and under appreciated. Rather than being thanked and rewarded for my decision to attain my master’s degree I was told by a county commissioner last week that masters degrees are unnecessary in our profession and that you can do the job without it. I agree that the job can be done without a masters degree but continuous education should be encouraged and teachers with masters degrees are who I want teaching my children. After all, if I am going to have a surgical procedure I want the doctor with the most up-to-date information regarding my surgery rather than a doctor who does not have the most cutting edge information.
I am appalled that our legislature has taken away due process through the loss of tenure. I was told by this same commissioner that I should just give up on hoping for tenure to be reinstated as it is a lost cause. I am insulted at the fact Tillis, Berger and Brock (in addition to others) only want to give 25% of us a raise. If I went to a doctor and they told me I had a 25% chance of survival I would get my will in order. If there are only a few bad teachers then why only give 25% of us a raise? Why isn’t that number 80% or 90%? Perhaps because they want the charter schools to come in and destroy our education system just like they did in Pennsylvania?
I am tired of hearing that NC does not have money to pay its teachers when McCrory has $230000 to update his bathroom, when my family and I have more than outgrown our tiny house. I am tired of hearing about NC paying for medical bills, yet we have a yacht tax credit. When I had to purchase another vehicle for my growing family I paid tax. Funds are not appropriately allocated.
I am also upset to see that my entire central office were able to get a raise but I am not. I know this is more of a county issue but it is still very discouraging, and it seems to be a way of keeping the higher ups happy enough to silence their teachers.
I am also tired of not being able to take my child to the doctor. I am a hardworking teacher, and my health insurance is so bad that when my children are sick I have to debate if that 105-degree fever is bad enough to pay a $30 to $70 copay. The $250 plus 20% emergency room bill is right out of the question unless someone is dying.
With respect, tenure, better health care and higher salaries in other states, I am not surprised to hear almost every educator I encounter attempting to find a way out of this state. Instead of being treated as educators, we are treated as if we were babysitters.
At the walk-in I told parents of my supply needs. Several told me to just let them know what I needed. I did. I said that I need colored pencils, construction paper and poster board. That was a week ago and no one has yet stepped up.
I coupon, groupon, share and haggle to make ends meet. Thankfully I have no credit card debt but that is because my family does without. I did have to purchase shoes for my children last month as they had out grown the ones they had. I bought two pairs of $15 shoes at an outlet store and I hoped that at the end of the month my checkbook would balance.
I feel bad for teachers who came in after me. I shared some old Christmas lights with another teacher in order to add some cheer to the holidays as I couldn’t see spending the $3 to $6 to purchase something that was not groceries or medical services.
Thankfully, my students see that I love them, and I am willing to fight for them. For now.
-A high school teacher, Iredell-Statesville School District.