Brother, Can You Spare $500?


The Atlantic recently posted about teachers who moonlight, those who must work a second (and maybe third) job in order to pay the bills. I read it with interest because this is something that I and some of my teacher friends are facing right now. 

The comments, however, are all focusing on the Bay Area (mentioned in the article), as if that is the only place that this is happening. 

That’s not true. 

I live in a large metropolitan area. I have lived here for many years and am proud to call it home. My school district has pushed to raise the starting salary for new teachers over the last few years. 

But they haven’t done much for the other teachers. 

One percent raise one year. Maybe two percent the next. One percent again. My biggest increase in salary was when I added a degree–one that I paid for myself, so I still haven’t made back the money I spent. 

The state government passed a bill to increase teacher salaries. The district used the money instead to fund a specific program.  Most of us never saw that money in our bank accounts. 

In the meantime, in the last few years my rent has gone up 33%. I wish that only my rent had increased that much, but it’s everywhere. I have searched in my area and beyond, and I keep finding the same problem. Even listings in the rough neighborhoods are priced about the same. Surrounding districts’ rent are not any better (plus their salaries are smaller).

So even though I’m an educated professional with multiple degrees, I’m paying attention to whose hiring for seasonal jobs. I’m looking online at jobs (again), but this time I’m looking at part-time jobs. I’m trying to figure out how to juggle a new teaching position plus helping take care of sick family members plus a new job. Just thinking about it is exhausting. 

And I know it’s not fair to my students. I know that teacher working conditions are student learning conditions. I know that a second job will distract me and make me more tired than I already am. I know I’m going to have to work hard to ensure that this does not hurt my kids. 

But I also know that the rent is due on the first of every month. And that’s not the only bill I have to pay. 

So I’m keeping my eyes and ears open. This is what I have to do, because I’m a public school teacher. 


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