(Note: This post originally published Wednesday morning on the “Notes from the Chalkboard” blog, which is maintained by Charlotte teacher and K-12 activist Justin Parmenter.)
After the N.C. Republican Party Communications Director questioned the veracity of her account of a public school teacher not having enough money for food and gas, Representative Deb “I Will Not Yield” Butler responded to his public records request by publishing the teacher’s entire heartbreaking email on Twitter.
Tuesday evening, Brunswick/New Hanover County Representative Deb Butler posted the following tweet:
Shortly after her tweet, Butler’s legislative assistant Tayler Williams received an email from North Carolina Republican Party Communications Director Jeff Hauser. Hauser was making a formal records request that Butler turn over the email she claimed to have received from the teacher.
That’s right. The N.C. GOP didn’t believe a North Carolina teacher could be struggling to this degree.
In response to the request, Butler asked the teacher for permission to publish the email in its entirety and posted it on Twitter just an hour after Hauser asked for it.
You can read the gut-wrenching account of this Brunswick County teacher’s financial struggles in its entirety below:
…a local teacher here in Brunswick County, North Carolina. I wanted to express my concern and frustration over the requirements and qualifications required for any form of public assistance. I realize that there are large amounts of families that are in tight financial situations but I am having difficulty with the fact that as a state employee who works extremely hard every day and I am not able to receive help. I am a single mom with zero support from my child’s father. He has been unable to be located and works under the table so I cannot track his employment. I have been denied any form of help, from Medicaid for my daughter to food stamps and childcare vouchers. I understand that I am employed and I am thankful for this every day but when I submit my information to try to get any assistance, I am denied because my Gross amount of pay is utilized, rather than my take home pay. According to my paycheck, I make $4,840 a month. This is not accurate. I have to take into consideration that I only get paid 10 times a year and therefore I have set up at Summer Cash account through SECU to help save money for the months I am not paid in the Summer. I take out $600 from each paycheck for that amount which leaves me with $4,240. I also have supplemental insurances to help cover emergencies since I am the only income for my family. This costs $440.32 a month. I am now at $3,799 a month. Then I have to take into account that I have state, federal, retirement, social security, and medicare taken from my paycheck for the amount of $1,070.89. I am now bringing home $2,728.79. With my take home pay, I have monthly bills that I have to pay. I pay $975 a month in rent, $130 in utilities, my phone bill is $143, car insurance is $100, insurance for my daughters health and dental is $84. I have student loan payments at $336 a month. I have personal loan payments each month from trying to cover months that I was extremely in debt. These total $393. I have to pay day care each week at $90 a week so on average that is $405. I am at $162.79 left. I also have credit card payments each month that cost $156.00. I have $6.79 left in my bank account to now cover gas, groceries, and miscellaneous items that always arise. I am currently in debt from not being able to pay all of my bills each month. I am $504 in debt to one student loan company and $672 to another. My bank account currently sits at $0.64. I have another week before payday.
If you would so willing to help explain to me what I can do about this I would greatly appreciate it. I am trying extremely hard each month to make it day to day. I often go without food in order to make sure that my daughter is provided for. I depend on the charity of friends to help cook me dinner with leftovers since they know how hard I am struggling. I have sold off everything I can in my household to try to supplement my income and I try to pick up babysitting jobs or tutoring to make ends meet. I am asking for your help as my local representative with this. I know I am not the only teacher in this situation. I realize that some strides are being taken to help with teacher pay but I need help now. If I would be able to get any kind of assistance I would be more than grateful.
It’s hard to imagine being less in tune to the realities of life for a North Carolina public school teacher than the Republican Party is right now. Earlier this month our General Assembly passed a bill which was inaccurately titled the “Strengthening Educators’ Pay Act.” The legislation would have given teachers in years 0-15 no raise at all for the next two years and approximately $50 a month more to the majority of experienced teachers at 16 years and up.
That bill was so insulting to North Carolina’s educators, especially when paired with the massive corporate tax cut passed around the same time, that Governor Cooper vetoed it and asked the legislature to do better. Cooper even offered to negotiate salary increases for educators independent of the Medicaid expansion issue, which has been at the heart of our four month budget impasse. The General Assembly responded by adjourning until mid-January.
When North Carolina teachers have to go hungry in order to provide for their children, you know the problem has gotten really bad. When a high-ranking representative of the majority party refuses to accept that reality, it’s clear that relying on our state legislature to step up and do the right thing is probably not realistic. It’s an incredibly sad state of affairs.
At this point all we can really do is hope that better days lie ahead.