In recent months, students have walked into the national spotlight, taking part in demonstrations, marches and protests to call for gun reform and safer schools. But last week, it was the teachers who were doing the walking, as educators in Arizona and Colorado walked off the job to fight for higher pay, school funding and pension benefits. Those protests come on the heels of similar protests in Oklahoma, Kentucky and the state that started it all, West Virginia.
These men and women marching to their capitals and leading letter-writing campaigns to their legislators are the same ones who are purchasing school supplies with their own money and staying late after school to teach kids how to read. They’re the ones making sure that talents don’t go unnoticed and that the quiet ones aren’t left behind. Their reward? Insufficient state funding, curriculum changes and the reminder not to complain because they get summers off.
While teachers in New York have it better than most—NPR reports that teachers in the state have the highest average nationwide salary, $77,957, but once cost of living is taking into consideration, the state drops down to 17th place, with adjusted income at $58,004—they’re not immune to the hardships of the profession.
It’s a burn that stings a bit more this time of year, as school districts across the Island prepare to put their budgets up to vote, with many having to find creative solutions to meet the demands of state mandates while juggling the needs of students and wallets of overburdened taxpayers. Like any budget there are sacrifices to be made: maybe it’s a new Smartboard, or AP classes or soccer field. Regardless of where the cuts occur, the ones who feel it most will be the students and the ones educating them.
Without properly compensating and equipping our educators, classroom learning can’t happen. If we say we want our kids to grow up to be leaders, let’s make sure we’re putting our money behind the ones leading them now.
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