Noblesse oblige, teacher

Heck, even Ichabod Crane took free meals from the farmers’ wives. I wonder what his version of “What Teachers Make” would sound like?!

Well, nice! “President Obama to Finalize Overhaul of Overtime Rule, Boosting Pay for 4.2M Workers.”

As much as I see the $15/hour minimum wage being hugely beneficial, it does concern me: the priority of being paid for (overtime) work proves the better deal. Getting paid for your work? Ingenious!

“The middle class is getting clobbered, although I think we’re making some real progress here,” Vice President Joe Biden said on a conference call with reporters Tuesday afternoon. “If you work overtime, you should actually get paid for working overtime.”

The final rule, which takes effect on Dec. 1, 2016, doubles the salary threshold — from $23,660 to $47,476 per year — under which most salaried workers are guaranteed overtime (hourly workers are generally guaranteed overtime pay regardless of their earnings level).

But ah, yes: here come the comments about teachers. Teachers are in a ‘noble’ profession, and don’t do it for the money, are there to sacrifice time, personal money, and yes, mental health. Now I don’t know if this is going to help teachers at all. It’s clear we have no room for complaining. Heck, even Taylor Mali set the stage, creating a legendary mythos of teachers being amazing at dinner parties with snappy retorts to rude guests! I mean, he’s lucky — at least he has friends who have dinner parties so he can get some decent grub once in awhile. A modern Ichabod, sans losing head thing.

It seems, however, if teachers speak up, we’re shouted back down. Talk to teachers in Chicago, Detroit, and Colorado. We need students to stick up for us because until parents (aka taxpayers) sign in and their children, we’re ancillary. Read this story about Grace Davis who made a difference. And while I can’t take anything from her ‘stubborn protest’ –why is it we teachers need outside forces to save us? Last time I check the credit card company doesn’t take payment in ‘noble’ dollars, and they don’t give a toot if I can teach them to spell D E F I N I T E L Y.

What do teachers want? They want to know they can support themselves and their families on their salary. They want to know their healthcare is there. They would like to travel a little bit. They would like opportunities to be compensated for their time, talent, and leadership. I heard a question the other day from the grapevine of someone questioning my motivation in staying at a  high-poverty school and getting a Board’s stipend that is larger than if I were to teach at a low-impact school. Oh, and the question of my race came into the discussion, too. So we have other teachers who tear us down, too and undermine each others’ abilities to grow. I say check yourself before you wreck yourself. We all do what we can to do the jobs we love and make sure we can live commiserate with our degrees.

Yes, did I know what I was getting into when I started? Yes, as much as anyone can. I liken it to having children: you think you know, but you don’t know. I did not anticipate job loss, how expensive college would be, my own student loans, health/medical bills, etc. Many Americans are in the same predicament.

And as sweeping as Obama’s changes will be, some simple things need to happen outside and inside the educational financial system:

  1. No crediting reporting for medical bills–we’ve had some that were inaccurate and it’s gone on our credit report. And once something wrong is on a credit report, backing it out of the steel treadles is damn near impossible.
  2. Teacher student loans are covered. I know there is a program I need to fill out paperwork for, but it’s not advertised or transparent. It should be simple. I write Sallie Mae, er, Navient, because it’s in private hands now, and prove I’m a teacher and it’s done.
  3. Overtime work is paid for.
  4. Matching retirement program: for every 5% we put in, the district/state/feds match it, up to a cap if need be.

We’ll see what happens next. Meanwhile, I told the milkman I would be paying in pencil shavings and paperclips. He said that’d be fine.