Educators are Exhausted
The educators I know are exhausted.
I spoke yesterday with a woman who facilitates the transition of disabled children into and out of classrooms, trains teachers to deal with problems students, provides class plans and individual reports on students, running from classroom to classroom, in more than one school, every day. When a student acts up, they call her. She is exhausted and looking for another job tin the educational system.
Another woman, with a Masters degree in Early Childhood Education and Educational Policy, is a pre-school teacher earning $32,000 a year. The school’s budget was recently cut and they stopped paying for an hour to prepare for the next day’s classes. She says, “I love the children and I want to teach them, but what I am doing is closer to babysitting.” She wants to leave teaching.
I am on Social Security, am married and share expenses with my husband, and am working as an Adjunct Professor in a university, making $3,750.00 per course. With four courses annually, I make $15,000, before taxes. I have never worked a summer session because there are fewer courses and they are given to full-time professors who must make a living on their work. I take the summers off, though in the past, when I badly needed the income, I would surely have worked.
The young adjuncts I work with are not so lucky. Many of them have to live on their salaries.
My first-year writing students frequently compliment me, saying I am the only teacher who makes extensive comments on their work. I have about 35 students in each class, take from 10-20 minutes to comment on each draft draft (say 15), with three drafts per assignment, and five assignments per semester. This adds up to around 131 hours per semester grading papers, another 60 hours or so preparing a syllabus, making class plans, and attending department meetings, and 32 hours per semester in class, plus about 26 hours commuting. Two hundred and forty-nine hours per semester, or around 19 hours a week is not too burdensome, though the load is not even. It is concentrated at the beginning and end of the semester. That turns out to be $15 per hour.
That is a paltry sum for people who are expected to have Masters degrees or Doctorates.
Adjuncts are usually limited in the number of classes they can teach, so they must teach at more than one college or university. Double the 249 hours to 498 hours, for $30,000. That barely furnishes the minimum, especially considering that most professors need a car to go from school to school, so triple it. Working 57 hours a week, a PhD takes home $45,000 a year. Many of the professors in my field are motivated to accept these sacrifices so that can pursue a career in writing, but what time do they have to write?
Educators are exhausted. We are squeezing people out of teaching. What purpose, other than saving money, does this serve? How important is it to save money? America is awash in money, it is just stuck at the top.
Can we as a society fairly claim to value education, to value our children?