Over the years I've done several posts on teaching.
Teaching is a very misunderstood profession. It is one of the most vital in society, yet it is also undervalued and unappreciated.
I have had the great privilege to get my education, and to graduate from the UNLV Elementary Education program. Until I actually went to school for it, I had no idea the hours, the stress, the heartbreak, but most of all the feeling of making a difference in someones life. I've seen students who have literally had nobody else in their life to turn to except their teacher. Off the top of my head I can think of six teachers who greatly impacted the direction in my life and molded me to be the person I am. I can think of many students that Adam has had in the past couple years who have turned around and changed their attitudes and their outlook on life after being in his class for one year.
Unless your parent, or spouse, or child, or YOU are a teacher (someone who lives with you basically) you cannot understand what the life of a teacher is like. I stand by that 100 percent. You can certainly appreciate and love teachers, and have empathy for them, but you cannot truly understand the heart wrenching, frustrating, beautiful life of a teacher.
I used to think a teacher had an easy profession. They work from 8:00am to 3:00pm and have summers, weekends, and holidays off. What a breeze. Being the wife of a teacher, I've learned that it is more of a 6:00am-5:00pm job most days, weekends are filled with preparing or taking continuing education courses, or working a second job, or preparing for some project or test. Summers are filled with 2nd jobs and summer school. All this is alright. Except when people tell me my husband doesn't work like their husband, or my husband has it easy. I get really defensive of that. Not only because I see my husband work his tail off but because I know first hand what it is to work as a teacher.
Why am I writing all this? Well tomorrow before noon we will hear what the arbitrator has decided. We have been in legal disputes over our 2011-2012 contract since February 2011. The school district wanted to freeze all raises or to fire 1,200 teachers in the district and cut everyone elses pay. That is all well and good. We've taken pay freezes for the past three years as it is, nothing new (we've taken about 8,000 dollars loss since Adam started with the district). Cutting our pay felt a little unreasonable, especially considering the things the district had spent money on that year (for example, 700 dollar ipads for every administrator in the district...about 2,500 administrators...do the math), but the biggest slam was the fact that if the district got their way, Adam wouldn't get his raise for his second masters degree that we had worked and saved for. We had paid out of pocket for this degree so that Adam could have more opportunities and more pay and now they weren't going to recognize it with their promised light at the end of the tunnel.
A year and a bit later we are still battling over the contracts. We did get the pay raise and they took the pay cut off the table but they are still fighting to cut the pay raise or fire a bunch of teachers. It may look like we are being greedy, but CCSD has been actively hiring teachers even though they've said they had to go on a hiring freeze (about 50-100 new teachers every month) and they are RECRUITING from out of state. There are currently 1,300 job openings in CCSD. It's going to be a real big slap in the face if we get a cut in pay and they continue to hire an additional 1,300 people. Guess what--the 2012-13 contract is getting ready to be negotiated...do you think they will fight for another slash in pay to get more people hired?
Bottom line--If we win, we keep the money. CCSD may make good on their promise and fire those teachers. Good news fired teachers...there are 1,300 vacancy's in the district right now with your jobs gone there will be an additional 1,200....just start the process again. If we loose we get another slash in pay AND have to pay back money the district has already paid us for five years in the district plus Adam's Masters+32 raise.
The district has gone on a rampage in the media, painting the teachers out to be greedy money hoarder and saying that we are only doing our job for the money, its' not about the kids. Guess what. If it wasn't about the kids the teachers wouldn't be out there doing what they are doing because it isn't about money, it isn't about having summers off, it isn't about a great schedule because all of those things are MYTHS, ILLUSIONS, FABRICATIONS of what a teachers job is really like. THAT IS THE REAL SLAP IN THE FACE. You are telling me that my husband has poured his blood, sweat, and tears into his job for money?!?!?! You are telling people we are throwing our fellow teachers under the bus, and the welfare of the children for money? It's not about the money. It's about the RESPECT that teachers deserve. Not as teachers, as HUMAN BEINGS. Our superintendent writes emails to the teachers telling them what a great job they are doing and then writes articles in the paper about how awful the teachers in this district are for not giving up their pay. We are not children Mr. Dwight Jones. We know what you are saying "behind our back."
For YEARS teachers have conceded their pay, their time, their personal money for this district and we are FINALLY taking a stand. I don't know what will happen tomorrow. I'm so nervous. I'm so nervous that I have spent hours crying, hours on my knees praying, I have been popping tums and advil left and right because my body can't take the pressure of the moment when my husband comes through the door looking defeated and deflated. I can't take people telling me "At least he's got a job." Yes I know he's got a job and I'm so grateful but the people he is working for are stomping on him and trying to bleed him dry.
If you are still reading this, I am sorry. I am just so frustrated and anxious. Tomorrow, if we loose we will be about 800 dollars a month poorer. I can deal with that. We won't be able to accomplish many of our financial goals and Adam will never see another raise as a teacher (there's always administration right? ipad anyone?) and we will be almost back at square one as we face the next few months with little to no paycheck (as they take the money Adam has earned away). We'll adjust, we will deal, but we will have been defeated by Goliath who will ask more and more of Adam, and continue to smear the good name of teacher all over the news in bad light. Adam told me that writing always makes me feel better and since I was having an anxiety attack I thought it might. My stomach is still in knots and my heart is still aching but I feel a little better. So heres to tomorrow. May the best man win.