Monday, February 18, 2013

How Long Can I Afford to Do This?

Provider of lunch and dinner...for several days in a row. 

Before anyone goes off on me and says that this is a "bitch and moan" piece, it's not; it's a response to a CNN article about why a teacher quit the profession. The short answer? She can't afford to do it anymore.

From the article:

"This is Linda DeRegnaucourt's last summer off. When school starts in August, it will be her last year to think about high school classes, advanced placement tests and calculus.

If all goes as planned, this will be her last year teaching at Palm Bay High School in Brevard County, Florida.

She doesn't want to go. After 13 years of teaching high-level math, she has a tested stable of learning methods that helped all her students pass the AP calculus exam. Her room is a popular place for students to escape the drama of the high school cafeteria. Few jobs can indulge her excitement for linear functions and matrix calculus.

"I hate to have to leave it," DeRegnaucourt said. "I really thought I was going to be that teacher, 65 years old and retiring from the education field. That's not going to happen."

She's quitting, she said, because she can't afford to stay.

Two years ago, a divorce left 47-year-old DeRegnaucourt with a single income. Rental properties she owned only caused more financial strain as Florida's real estate market fell apart in recent years. Despite her years of experience, she earns $38,000, she said, less than she made in the past, when teachers received larger supplements for additional certifications.

Once she made a budget, she realized she didn't make enough money to cover her expenses and save for her future. Changing careers felt like the only wise financial move, she said."

My response? Fair point, with a perfectly logically conclusion. I have asked myself if I can afford to do this long-term while looking at it from several angles. Financially. Physically. Emotionally. 

I'll go for as long as I can go. I already know and have already stated that I won't retire in a classroom. I won't be a 20+ year teacher, if I even come anywhere close to that number. I'm year 2, and I'm already antsy to get the know the educational landscape outside of the classroom better. 

Financially-speaking, money has never been my primary motivator, though I definitely respect the importance and need for it. Then again, without giving too much of myself away, I can say that my credit kicks ass; I pay off my credit card every month; I just bought a new Rav-4; and I can't say that don't live comfortably. 

That's right! I'm ridin' on 17s!!
That's not to say that I'm ballin' HARD. In fact, I just enjoyed a bowl of "Furl-Os", the name I gave to the non-Cheerio Cheerios I just ate (and just enjoyed the hell out of them) :)
Totally have eaten 3 out of 4 of these, and currently have one in my pantry now. HINT: Not the one on the far-right.

However, I recognize that teacher retention is a problem. It's not enough that the today's culture is not valuing the important of the role of the teacher in education as highly as years prior, thus leading a good number of teachers to leave to greener pastures. Now, the economic landscape is further kicking dirt in the eyes of good teachers willing to persevere. 

If my immediate goals were to settle down, buy a house, and have babies, hell no, I wouldn't teach! But that not my problem; I'm good with what I get and will get, but then again, I take care of just myself, and I have no plans on staying in the classroom long enough to where, financially, being an educator will be burdensome. (In other words, I'm nowhere close to the point where I'm buying a house and having babies.)

But to those who want to be teachers for a long time AND have the "American Dream", I understand their decision to leave, if they want. I just don't think it should have to be a choice between teaching and having enough money to sustain. Why not both?