Thursday, July 18, 2019

Nothing to Sneeze At

The other day, Board of Education Member Vicky Cutroneo asked the following question in a local online education group:

Educators:  what materials of instruction (MOI) do you run out of first/need to supplement with your own income the most?

She received 191 responses.

If I were the mathematical sort I would have counted and sorted the responses and made a bar graph. I didn’t. Instead, I looked on with a sinking feeling as the post confirmed what I already knew: it’s very expensive to be a teacher.

This is the time of year that we see ads with special discounts for teachers to buy materials for their classrooms for the upcoming school year. On its face, it’s a nice gesture. But it hardly addresses the underlying problem:

Why do we expect teachers to use their own money to provide materials which their jobs require?

We already know that teacher salaries in almost all locations have been stagnant for quite a while. Adjusted for other financial factors, teachers actually make less than they used to. Student loan debt is a heavy burden, and items like food, housing, and other necessities have increased. Add to that the expectation that teachers will make up the difference in Materials of Instruction and what you see is highly educated, overworked, and underpaid individuals digging a financial hole every day from which there is no escape.

I wonder if we took a look at other professions which require a four year degree, possibly a masters, if we would find many where spending a substantial chunk of one’s own money was the accepted practice. It seems laughable, really.

It’s no joke for teachers.

I don’t know what Ms. Cutroneo is going to do with her list, although I suspect she wants to find a way to help lift that burden from our local teachers. One thing I can tell you is that one of the most-named items was tissues. You may not think of tissues as a Material of Instruction but just try teaching without them. If a kid needs a tissue and there aren’t any, no useful instruction will be taking place.

Trust me. I know.

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