Why Do You Teach NC?

I had a kid ask me, genuinely, years ago, “why do you work here? We treat you so bad and I saw the sign at the McDonalds. You could make more.” And I could. I could.

But someone once told me I could save the world and I believed them.

So I am. One playing test at a time. One test after another, schedule change, new principals, new ideas, old textbooks, and personal checks for books and supplies and reeds. I am saving the world. Their world.

It’s ridiculous. It’s precious.

I could take the low pay if people didn’t treat us as garbage. If we didn’t get cursed at for being lazy when we break our hearts daily for our children biologically yours but lovingly ours.

Everyone knows me. I teach everyone.

It’s a cruel kind of fame being a teacher, everyone knows you at school but never knows you outside when your bills are due or you are buying another notebook for another student.

“Why are you so selfish? Why do you need more money?”

I suppose it’s because after taxes, social security, retirement (that I may not even see), dental, health, and eye insurance (remember we have to have insurance) I take home $1300 a month. Then it’s $615 for rent, $450 for childcare so I can teach and the rest is food for 3 people while my husband uses his $1500 to pay for CDub’s $250 a month insurance and the utilities, car insurance and loans for school. I’m paying on a loan I took out for maternity leave 3 years ago and I wonder why we never seem to break even. Why are the credit cards so high?

Then I do the math.

It’s because I’m selfish.

Because I am good enough to teach your kids but not enough to be able to afford my own.

Why do we want more funding?

I suppose it’s because George Bush Sr. is not President like the Social Study’s books say.

Mainly because the peeling desks and wonky chairs face broken blinds at half mast saluting the remains of a box of teaching manipulatives and handmade flash cards under the flickering lights. I can say lights because at least two out of 8 are working.

The library shelves sit mostly empty, not because of technology, but because NC doesn’t believe in books anymore and yet wants all the students to read on level. They will pay to print a test for every child but neglect to give them the money to buy pencils. The county can figure it out. (Thank God they do to)

While this isn’t my school now, I have seen this across NC. I have worked in these places. I have read about this. I have commiserated and screamed over it. I have lost sleep over bills. Over supposed luxuries like driving two hours away to visit my parents. How could I use the gas?

But I digress. Its really a problem because I am selfish. At least that’s what my beloved elected officials are saying.

So I suppose this is why teachers all over NC march on our State capital the 16th. I cannot afford the personal day or the gas to get to Raleigh. I hope many other people can go. I hope that people listen. Then again, I’m not so hopeful that I think they actually will.

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