What? Classroom Materials Loans?
Despite ridiculous claims about how teachers “make too much money” because the private sector pays teachers less than the public sector [perhaps private institutions should pay teachers a more dignified salary], because teacher make an “obscene” 35$ an hour, or because a group of science deniers decided that teachers aren’t smart enough, the truth is that the level of respect given to teachers in the US, at least in national conversations regarding education, is remarkably low. They are constantly framed as leeches who work for the sake of “paid vacation” (never mind the fact that they work on a salary and that by the time summer comes along they have already earned their summer pay) or because they want an “easy job” (last I checked, teaching was not an easy thing to do).
As far as economic compensation, teachers are largely paid a mediocre salary for all the work they do and the responsibilities they have. No doubt you will find articles talking about how “teachers (supposedly) make over $100,000 a year”. Before you start quoting them, look at the actual numbers and realize that these “salaries” are the combination of “likely salaries”, pension, medicare, and social security employer contributions, healthcare employer contribution, the assumption that sick days are worth additional money on top of the salary, performance bonuses, and other benefits that should, in reality, be standard of any job. Before you say “but the teachers in Chicago” (or your choice state), realize that these numbers are pulled from data focusing on late career teachers who have 25 or 30 years teaching, and whose “exorbitant” salaries have been built up through years of experience, good work performance, and additional education. Let’s use Texas as an example of this. The reality is that most teachers, after deductions, receive between 2,000 and 3,000 a month, with the most senior and most educated teachers MAYBE receiving 4,000 a month. Furthermore, IF teachers REALLY made $100,000 a year, which they don’t, it would not bother me at all given that what they do when they’re on the clock is nourish the minds of America’s youth and what they do when they are off the clock is spend most of their time awake either correcting exams, quizzes, homework assignments, or essays, or making lesson plans. I’m not the only one who thinks this way.
But enough of that. This is not what I really wanted to comment on. This is just background information to put things into context. We know that teachers don’t make the exorbitant amount of money claimed by some commentators, we know that teachers spend a lot of their own time working without pay, and I know (although you probably didn’t) that teachers have to pay for their classroom supplies. If teachers want to give their students supplemental readings, they have to buy them. If teachers want to have pens and pencils and erasers and lab notebooks for their students, they have to buy them. If teachers want to decorate their classrooms, they have to buy the decorations. Basically, teachers have to pay to do their job well.
And now, they are expected to go into debt so that they can do their job well.
This may seem like a story out of a satirical website, but it’s not. The Schools First Credit Union, Gulf Coast Educators Credit Union, Grossmont Schools Credit Union, Schools Financial Credit Union, and the by now famous Silver State Schools Credit Union all offer their employees low rates on loans so that they can buy supplies to do their job. This is just ridiculous.
Call me whatever you like, but I strongly encourage teachers in these districts and others not only to not go into debt to do their job, but to simply not buy any classroom supplies that cannot be used for personal use. Need a laptop to prepare classes and send students assignments? By all means buy one. They can also be used to write books or watch youtube videos or for a number of purposes. Need to buy notebooks and pencils for the students? That actually falls on the students’ parents. Need to buy class-specific materials like calculators? That falls on the schools. The schools don’t want to buy calculators for the students? I guess they’ll just have to learn to divide and multiply like the rest of us did – by thinking.