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Low Wages Lead Teachers to Second Jobs

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Low Wages Lead Teachers to Second Jobs


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Teachers all over America walked out of their classrooms to raise awareness about low wages and the financial distress they’re put in. As of 2018, the annual salary for an Austin teacher is $55,261 according to salary.com. With the average living cost in Austin being $53,225, it’s barely enough to get by. These circumstances have resulted in 1 in 3 Texas teachers having to get a second job to be able to provide for themselves.

“I worked a second job the first five years I was teaching here at Austin high [because] my teacher pay was not enough money to pay my bills. I could not live in Austin on a teacher salary.” English teacher Kerri Ault said.

The introduction of a second job helps bring in needed cash, but the physical strain it puts on teachers tends to outweigh the monetary benefits. Some teachers take up a second job during the summer so it won’t interfere with their teaching position, while others have no choice but to take on both at the same time. This results in not being able to prioritize their teaching and leaves them in a busy cycle.

“I would teach all day, then I would work a five to midnight shift three nights a week. By the time I got home, it was 1 am. Then I would get up at six and go to work, so it was exhausting. I wasn’t nearly as sharp and focused as I should have been,” Ault said.

Many teachers can’t handle the pressure of having to work in another job. More than 40% work over 60 hours a week, while also putting in an additional 12 hours a week outside of school, according to thebestschools.org. This hassle drives many teachers to quit, with 40% to 50% saying goodbye to the profession within the first five years.

“We put in long hours past when we’re just at school. We’re working nights and weekends, often spending our own money to make things happen in the classroom. I don’t think that we’re paid like professionals,” Atrra said.

While some teachers are not able to get out of the ropes of juggling two jobs, others find relief within having a family where they are not the only one making money. Having a double income family takes more off their plate, but without the other person, they would still be struggling to make ends meet.

“I live more comfortably now simply because I’m married to someone who has the ability to earn more money,” Ault said. “If I were still single and teaching it would probably be just as difficult. I’d probably still be working a second job if it were just me paying the bills.”

This brings up a deeper topic in the discussion, which is that teachers aren’t just underpaid but undervalued. According to a poll on educationnext.org, 6 in 10 Americans believe teachers should be paid more because of the role they play in our society.

“There are no other jobs unless there are teachers. We’re the ones that are teaching you life skills that you need and giving you the education to go to college and then enter the workforce,” Attra said.

The fight for increased pay is an ongoing battle,with the most recent strike being in May, but teachers continue to firmly believe in the importance their job holds.

“Teachers influence just about everything that a student can do,” Ault said. “[Everything] stems from education. Teachers have a huge opportunity to impact a kid’s life. I think that we are critically undervalued in the service that we provide. If you want a strong community, you have to have an educated community, and that’s where teachers do the heavy lifting.”

 

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Low Wages Lead Teachers to Second Jobs