Opinions are like butt holes, everyone has one. Unfortunately, not everyone exercises their right to keep them covered. During stressful times such as the recent teacher strike in East St. Louis, everyone likes to weigh on what they feel teachers deserve and/or don’t deserve. It sickens me to hear people say what teachers don’t deserve because they’re “just teachers.” Well, let’s set the record straight on a few untruths, misunderstandings, non-considerations, or just plain outlandish ideas.
A teacher strike doesn’t only include “just teachers,” it also includes counselors, administrative assistants also known as secretaries, truancy officers, paraprofessionals, and much more support staff. WE ARE EDUCATORS. Educators are professionals just like lawyers, doctors, administrators, even superintendents. Just as those professionals, we attended prestigious colleges and universities. Believe it or not there is no such thing as a “just teacher” tuition. As a matter of fact, there are added expenses for us in the form of multiple certification exams that we must take and pass before we are allowed to become “just teachers” or “just school counselors.” Many of us have earned multiple degrees (BA, MA, and Doctorate), additional certificates, and continuous professional development hours. The professional development of an educator does not stop with a degree; it is lifelong.
While no one, maybe except for Superintendent Arthur Culver, enter/stays in the field of education to become rich, we deserve to be compensated just as our professional counterparts for the service we provide. Yes, we chose this profession and there are certain things we should not have to worry about, professional “RESPECT” and a fair contract are two of them. We have the same financial responsibilities as the rest of the adults in the world. We have the same student loan officials contacting us for repayment as you do; we have the same bills, mortgages, same cost of living. There are no financial privileges that come along with being “just a teacher.”
In the professional arena, people are compensated for their level of education and years of experience. The average salary of a doctor is well over $100,000. How much time does your doctor actually spend with you? But no one debates or argues their salary. You want to know why? Because they are compensated for their “EXPERTISE.” The average salary of a nurse is over $66,000. The average salary of a lawyer is over $100,000 and paralegals is over $50,000. All compensated for their “EXPERTISE.” While the average salary of a teacher is a little over $46,000. Teachers spend 40 plus hours with their students and this doesn’t include planning time, grading papers, or time spent with extracurricular activities. This also doesn’t include the lunch periods, before school, after school spent tutoring/counseling/advising our students. Educators advocate for the future of our students, we are constantly cultivating their minds and inspiring our students to become doctors, lawyers, nurses, and paralegals. But for some reason people don’t feel that an educator’s job is that important or that we should be compensated for our “EXPERTISE.” At least that’s what I am hearing from those who make decisions about the funding of our schools on a state and federal level, and more recently Superintendent Arthur Culver and the many onlookers who are weighing in on the matter.
Or am I hearing a deeper issue… Are they saying that because we are “just teachers” in “East St. Louis” we don’t deserve professional respect and a fair contract? Do you think that the work we do is any less worthy than an educator elsewhere? Superintendent Culver, are you saying that those of us who are in the schools and classrooms daily working and advocating for our students before, during, and after school hours have not earned every penny owed to us? You have already expressed in so many words and through your refusal to negotiate that you have no respect for us as professionals. What else are you saying? Choose your words wisely, because after all, its “just teachers” who are working to enforce and implement the procedures and curriculum inside the classroom that has contributed to the growth and success of the district as a whole. The same growth and success of which you say you have earned every penny.
By the way, the average salary for a school superintendent is $111, 724 and Superintendent Culver’s salary is how much? Don’t worry, I’ll wait…