A Teacher's Day

The day in the life of an inner city large urban school district teacher after the high stakes testing ends and there is still three more months left before summer vacation.

Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States

I have taught school for over thirty years always in the inner city and for the most part always upper grade students. I have two children and I have been married for twenty years.

Friday, September 15, 2006


A few days ago my youngest sister celebrated her birthday. My brother and other two sisters were there with my mother. I was looking for a new place to live so I didn’t make it.

Somehow I came up in the conversation. It was about money, of course. I’m a school teacher. I’ve been teaching for over thirty years always in Chicago’s roughest neighborhoods, many times in situations that called for a lot more than anyone could really give or handle.

School teachers as a rule are not the richest individuals in the country. Oh, we train the richest. It’s because of us there are lawyers and doctors and rocket scientists. Few on the Chicago Board of Trade did not get to where they are without the help of a school teacher.

Nonetheless, my sister—we’ll call her P.—told everyone around the table that I must easily make 80,000 dollars a year. She said, “He has a masters and seniority. He’d have to be extremely stupid if he doesn’t make 80,000 dollars.”

I guess I’m extremely stupid.

I don’t make that kind of money. Even as the administrator of the After School All-Stars Program (over a hundred hours of work for a thousand dollars) and the chairperson for the Least Restricted Environment grant (thirty hours at least and I’m still waiting to get paid). I even did the Wednesday night reading enrichment program that went past 6:30 PM.

No, I don’t make 80,000 dollars. I understand Chicago Public School assistant principals make that kind of money.

But not me.

I’m just a teacher.

But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I do make that kind of money. So I did the only thing I could think of to do: I looked at my 2005 income tax forms. Nope. Not 80,000. Not even seventy. More like sixty. Less after taxes.

And this is for an average day from 7:30 AM to about 5:00. I even acted as the crossing guard last school year because Chicago did not think my school worthy of a crossing guard after the after school program let out at 4:45.

80,000 for a teacher in the inner city? Come on now. Let’s be serious. I’m going home to have a drink and you know what? I never touch the stuff. Beer tastes too much like medicine.

I just think maybe in addition to being stupid, I’m also sick.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

being in the company of love is all that matters.

9:23 AM  

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