Actually, It Is the Money

I’m in a higher paying district in Phoenix. I know of teachers who are making $4,000 less a year than me. Unlike my own children’s school district, my district is not considering a four day work week. I realize that, to a certain extent, I am lucky. My district’s override passed.

Still, in my own district, I see teachers taking on second and third jobs on a regular basis. I know of one who bar tends, another who babysits, still another working retail and one who works the late shift at Starbucks. These teachers aren’t doing this for extra spending money. They’re doing this to make ends meet.

Meanwhile, as the economy improves, our state is slashing funding for public education. Folks are asking why we have a teacher shortage in our state. Is it the tests? Is it the parents? Is it teacher prep? Is it the fact that teachers are held in low regard publicly? Perhaps some of those play a role. But maybe the biggest reason is the pay. Maslow’s hierarchy applies to teachers as well.

People talk about education policy and the conversations almost always shift into whether or not we should take tests online or whether schools should change the grading policy to standards based. However, the biggest policy shaping my reality right now as a dad and as a teacher is the current budget. When schools are starved, it’s hard to think of anything else.


John Spencer

John Spencer

Phoenix, Arizona

In my sophomore year of college, I began tutoring a fifth-grader in a Title One, inner city Phoenix school. What began as a weekly endeavor of teaching fractions and editing essays grew into an awareness of the power of education to transform lives. My involvement in a non-profit propelled a passion for learning as an act of empowerment.

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