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.

Monday, May 07, 2007


Do you know how you can tell teachers are not valued at all in the realm of the world—or at least here in the United States?

First off, we know teachers are very badly underpaid. But until now (well, not for the first time in my Chicago teaching career), not only are we underpaid, but sometimes we don’t get paid at all.


Oh, you must be working for a major corporation. I’m a teacher. Remember that. Not a doctor. Not a lawyer. Definitely not an elected official. God forbid their paycheck comes up incorrectly.

For the last two pay cycles my check has been off by a lot. The first one did not pay me for any of my extra service that I do—chair of the Least Restricted Environment and coordinator for the After School All Stars. Nor did the second one.

I didn’t even get paid for all of the work I do during my regular time. One day was missing off the check last pay period and this pay period, an entire week.

Teachers have bills, too. And I don’t feel like I need to hear excuses. We do the work, we work hard, and we should get paid on time and correctly.

(A few years back the Board messed up the budget so badly we had to go on strike to get paid. Another time we were told to go directly from work to the bank to cash our paycheck because they did not know if there would be enough funds to cover all of them.)

I’m not now a happy camper. In a few minutes I will go outside and supervise the playground—maybe by myself because I don’t always receive help the entire time. Then I’ll teach reading—we’re on science fiction now—and science—theoretical physics—and then I’ll go outside again and supervise dismissal and my day is not over yet. Tonight is literacy night and I’ll be here past seven o’clock. (Did I tell you I removed the negative graffiti from the playground myself at my expense—well, I wrote a grant for the supplies—because no one else would do it?)

So pay us.


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