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 am in my 5th year as a Special Education Teacher. I have 2 degrees and working on a degree in Educational Leadership. I knew when I went into this career teachers did not get paid their worth but I thought they would be able to live comfortably.
I am a single parent of 3 daughters, and — although they are all grown — my youngest is in her 2nd year of college and requires my help for miscellaneous and personal items.
I so happen to be getting paid for my master’s degree but, for what it is worth, I am making what I made as a CNA II working for Cape Fear Valley Hospital makes in 2 weeks.
I am ashamed to even claim North Carolina as a state because of the way they treat their teachers. No professional should be making what a person with no degree makes, and the worse part is that the state has continually decreased the pay and claim they have given a one-percent raise to satisfy our cry for help.
In 2007/2008, a 4th-year master’s-level teacher made $3693 a month for 10 months or $3077.50 for 12 months. In 2013/2014, a 4th-year master’s-level teacher makes $3388 for 10 months or $2833.33 for 12 months.
Why was there a decrease instead of just a freeze on pay?
I bring home $2643 a month. My rent is $980, lights $200, car payment $500, insurance $250.00, monthly doctor bill $200, medication $200, gas for the month $160, my daughter money to buy food and miscellaneous items $100, and the balance is $53.00 to buy food.
I have to have transportation to get to work, I have to have a place to live, I have to have lights, I have to keep insurance because the state will charge you even more without it, I have a medical condition in which I have to go to the doctor monthly and I have to buy my medication since the insurance fails to pay much of anything. I also have to have gas to get to and from work, and I have to support my daughter in school to keep her from suffering and dropping out.
I have lost weight because I cannot afford to buy food. I am not able to buy supplies for my classroom because I cannot afford to pay for anything.
I am ashamed to say I am a teacher because I have other bills that I cannot pay because I do not make enough money. I am just not understanding the logic behind the state in treating teachers as though they are 2nd rate professionals. We are evaluated based on the performance of the students but offers no incentives when we make growth. They expect us to be mistreated but give our best in our treatment, this is like slavery but in the professional world. I have already started placing applications for employment outside the state because I just cannot afford to live and teach in the state I call home.