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Among today’s Soapbox entries, teacher Rachel Harkey writes about the misconception that teacher tenure is a job for life and the price teachers will pay for losing tenure, also known as “career status.”

Many people misunderstand tenure. It is not a job for life. It is simply protections put in place to protect a teacher from being fired without just cause. A teacher who is struggling must go through an improvement process and will be fired if appropriate progress is not made. I understand most other professions have no such protection. However, education is not like most other professions. I can’t increase my salary by doing a wonderful job. There are no sales bonuses for teachers. There are no performance/production based raises in this profession. In the past we got a bump on the pay scale for coming back the next year, but that has been stopped for the last five years. How many professions have employees who have greater and greater expectations constantly placed on them for stagnant salary for five years? How many people can afford to work in these conditions?

Read more of what Harkey has to say here. To read rest of teachers’ stories about the state of their profession, or submit your own, visit Your Soapbox.

 

In today’s Soapbox, we hear from one assistant principal who learned that one of her teacher assistants made more money when she worked at Kentucky Fried Chicken.

And a teacher writes that she can’t afford to teach:

Our family insurance costs over $600 per month, and the coverage is terrible. In essence, I am actually making less each year that I teach because my salary stays the same, but my insurance premiums keep going up.

Over the summer I do freelance writing so I can stay home with my girls and still earn money. I also take freelance writing jobs on the weekends and after school. It doesn’t make logical sense for me to continue to teach in North Carolina. The policymakers are destroying our entire education system and making it impossible for good teachers to stay. There is no need to look further than Raleigh to determine why North Carolina schools are having trouble keeping quality teachers. They should be ashamed of what they are doing to this state.

Read these stories at more over at Your Soapbox.

Your soapbaoxTwo more educators have submitted their stories over at the new and enormously popular NC Policy Watch feature: “Your Soapbox.”

In this post, “Broken Dream,” a teacher explains in stark terms how barely-above-poverty wages may force the abandonment of a lifelong dram and commitment to the profession that began as a child:

“When I started Kindergarten, it was clear to my parents that I was a born teacher. I was thrilled to be learning to read, write and do math, but was most excited to come home and show my younger brother what we did in school that day. Countless hours were spent playing “school” as I shared with my brother what I loved the most, learning. There was never a question as to what I would do. Never a hesitation, or second thought….

If something doesn’t change soon, I will leave education, my dream job, for my family. Not because I’m tired of grading, or dealing with discipline problems, or fed up with testing, observations, coverages, duties or parents. It will be because I can’t live on a teacher’s salary.”

Read the rest of this post by clicking here.

In this post, “Pay is not the only issue,” a veteran teacher who left the profession explains the frustration that comes with poor student behavior and lack of respect:

“Low pay was not my reason for leaving. Lack of respect and not being treated like a professional were at the top of my list. I also disliked the lack of accountability for students. There was little to no consequences for poor behavior, and we were told not to retain failing students ( or even give them failing grades).”

Read the rest of this post by clicking here and all of the “Your Soapbox” submissions by clicking here.

Today’s Soapbox submissions include a story from one first year teacher who is already looking for a way out of her path toward financial ruin.

I literally scrape by every month to make ends meet with maybe only 10 dollars to spare after the necessary costs (food, rent, gas, etc). If I am sick, I try to not go to the doctor as my copays are $30, which is too much for me to spend.

I would love to get my master’s degree, but cannot afford to get it with my current pay. I teach very low-income students, so I pay for everything they need (pencils, folders, markers, pens, erasers, notebooks, binders and anything else required for my class throughout the semester).

I am not bitter in doing so, but I have to eat and take care of myself too. While I love teaching in the state of North Carolina (I love my school and my location), I do not foresee myself staying here much longer due to the current pay level.

Read this teacher’s story and more over at Your Soapbox.

More teachers who are frustrated with their working conditions have submitted their stories to our feature “Your Soapbox.”

One first-grade teacher writes:

I have spent Sundays at home, trying to grapple with the computer program and my assessments’ grades, when I would much prefer to be renewing my spirit in church. My garden lies neglected. On beautiful autumn days when the sun and colors cry out to be admired, you will find me instead stuck indoors with the computer, frustrated and ready to shriek!

I confessed to my first-grade team that I had broken down and cried in frustration. They responded, “Now every team member has cried!”

And a Robeson County teacher shares:

I am appalled at the amount of work we have to do besides preparing meaningful lessons, assessments and activities. After the first shock though, I was unprepared for no raise, more hours, illnesses that I have never suffered before, meetings, game duty, lunch duty, hall duty, without a break, all day, every day, PTA nights that make a 15 hour or so day four times a year.

I have a classroom with no windows, no phone and no two way intercom. I am left on my own to break up fights between 13-year-old boys and girls who are hell-bent on beating the cream cheese out of each other.

The state of North Carolina is driving teachers away and, all that will be left will be the people who will be willing to accept the low pay and crazy hours.

Read these stories and more over at the Soapbox.