Philly teacher: Salary concessions would amount to paying myself to teach

    After more than 20 years of teaching in the Philadelphia schools, I am on the highest step, with only my permanent teaching certificate (no master’s, no master’s plus, just the experience and the degree). I clear just a little over $1,500 per paycheck after everything is removed — taxes, union dues, wage continuation insurance, etc. — which brings it to approximately $39,000 per year.

    Take off the more than $1,000 I spend in a year (shocking, I know) on school supplies and various school functions — Thanksgiving lunch, back-to-school breakfast, celebrations and such — that’s $38,000.

    Over the year, 13 percent of my salary, about $8,000, will be removed, if the union agrees to wage concessions. Add to that the potential contribution of 13 percent of the cost of health care, plus dental expenses, prescriptions, vision and spouse expenses. (Okay, he can pay for his own damn teeth.) That’s another $4,000, roughly figured, if I don’t take meds or get sick. Now I’m down to $26,000.

    I’m not going to figure in the cost of living, because that really doesn’t figure into the plan of living anyway. Maybe just gas, because I do have to get back and forth to this location, which of course is nowhere near my house. (Okay, that’s my choice.) Figure $100 per month, if I go nowhere but back and forth, leave out the summer months, and it’s $900 to $1,000 per year, bringing it down to $25,000 per year.

    Added to that, I’m to work an hour longer per day, have no security in the building, have no new books or paper — no need, if we don’t have a copier either — and give up 15 minutes of lunch. (Ahh … to eat or to pee? That is the question.)

    The School District wants me to give up 13 percent of my salary for the next four years. So, in essence, I will be giving them back about $32,000. So does that mean I’m paying myself nearly a year’s salary to work for four years?

    Like so many of us, I have gone to work over the past two weeks to prepare for this job (for no extra pay) so my classroom will be ready for my kiddos on the first day of school. And I am excited, because I love my school and the people I work with. How many of you can say that?

    Friday’s Inquirer said we’re not stepping up high enough to reach the $103 million the school district is asking for. Is there any other union that pays its employer to work? I think most people are under the impression that teaching is still a woman’s job and therefore the pay is just supplemental for her family. Superintendent William Hite’s remarks about our working for respect and professional growth show just how little respect he has for us.

    Sandi Fisher is a teacher as William Cramp Elementary School in Philadelphia.

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