The jabs Erin Parker has heard about her job have stunned her. Oh you pathetic teachers, read the online comments and placards of counterdemonstrators. You are glorified baby sitters who leave work at 3 p.m. You deserve minimum wage.
“You feel punched in the stomach,” said Ms. Parker, a high school science teacher in Madison, Wis., where public employees’ two-week occupation of the State Capitol has stalled but not deterred the governor’s plan to try to strip them of bargaining rights.
Ms. Parker, a second-year teacher making $36,000, fears that under the proposed legislation class sizes would rise and higher contributions to her benefits would knock her out of the middle class.
“I love teaching, but I have $26,000 of student debt,” she said. “I’m 30 years old, and I can’t save up enough for a down payment” for a house. Nor does she own a car. She is making plans to move to Colorado, where she could afford to keep teaching by living with her parents.
Around the country, many teachers see demands to cut their income, benefits and say in how schools are run through collective bargaining as attacks not just on their livelihoods, but on their value to society.
Even in a country that is of two minds about teachers — Americans glowingly recall the ones who changed their lives, but think the job with its summers off is cushy — education experts say teachers have rarely been the targets of such scorn from politicians and voters.
This woman really isn’t making a great deal of money. She has college debts that must be paid off. The NO Child Left Behind Act sets unrealistic expectations for every teacher in this nation. Specifically, the act says that by 2014 each school will have 100% pass rate. In other words, every child in America will have passed all of his/her state objectives. Sure, sure, by the time 2014 rolls around, someone in the Department of Education or Congress will have come up with some lamely concocted caveat to ease the pains of not being able to do the impossible, but that is still the albatross that hangs around each teacher’s neck as they enter the building each morning to go to work. That is the axe that hangs over their head during the work day.