Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Why One Good Teacher Quit Teaching or Is Money Really the Issue

No, dear readers. I have not resigned from my teaching position. But one good teacher in Florida decided to quit teaching at the end of the 2011-12 school year. You can read and watch about Linda DeRegnaucourt and her decision to end her 13 year teaching career on the CNN website.
DeRagnaucourt says she's quitting teaching because of the low pay and the way teachers are treated:

...I came to the realization that the money I make isn't enough. It isn't enough to live alone. As educators we make what we make, nothing more, nothing less. In industry, if I'm valuable, the company can keep me by making the package they offer me more attractive. In education, the principal's hands are tied.

There has been a lot of debate lately over merit pay and pay for performance, ways to increase salaries for those that "perform", mostly based on test scores. There are some valid points on both sides of the debate.

But ultimately for me, it comes down to whether teachers are making a livable income, especially single teachers.

I had a conversation with a colleague, a teacher in her early thirties, who is delaying seeking medical treatment for her health issues due to the cost: it was two weeks until pay day and she did not have the money for the co-pay. Yet, this same teacher spent a weekend at an amusement park a few weeks earlier. I'll bet the co-pay and the admission to the park are equal amounts of money.

I'm not saying folks should deprive themselves, but even DeRegnaucourt talks about putting herself on a budget. If one's basic living expense aren't being met, then we have a problem. But the next question has to be, are we living beyond our means?

And DeRegnaucourt says she'll make $20,000 more a year moving from the teaching profession into the nursing field. She'll also be working two more months, right? How come no one every mentions that we are not comparing apples to apples? Even I can do that math:

If the average teacher in XYZ state makes $40,000 per year as a teacher and the average nurse in XYZ state makes $60,000 per year , then the teacher makes $4000 per month and the nurse makes $5000 per month. While that's still $1000 a month more, the nurse also gets paid 12 times a year instead of 10 times! Ultimately that's only a $10,000 yearly salary difference when you compare apples to apples and not to oranges.

I'm wondering if the move from education to nursing has been worth it for her.  Hoping to find a follow-up story.


Jen McConnel said...

I think teaching (and nursing, for that matter) aren't professions that anyone enters for the money. You have to love it enough to try, but the money does become a harsh reality check fairly soon after starting such a career. Great post!

Linda Dextre' said...

When you use "only" and $10000.00 in the same sentence, I can assume you have never experienced a financial struggle. Teachers do not mame pay commensurate with professional experience. Fact.

Ms. Dee said...

You're right, Linda. I was raised incredibly frugally and have not had major financial issues in my life. But I also know that I cannot get a job in another field making what I make as an educator. Perhaps I am tainted by our district supplement and our state' NBC differential.