Most people know that educators do not enter the field to become rich. Instead, we reap the benefits of abstract rewards like seeing growth on standardized tests, hearing “thank you”, or witnessing former students as they spread their wings and fly into productive lives for which a pre-K-12 education has poured the foundation.
Lately some teachers and other school staffers have been rewarded across the United States by hitting the jackpot. Many scurried a few short weeks ago to buy tickets for the mega millions jackpot that reached the highest totals in history. Those hopeful ticket holders anxiously, some prayerfully, waited with crossed fingers for the winning numbers to be announced.
Eventually it was known that the winners were from three states. A little later it was determined that the three winners from Maryland were public school employees. Hearing that these public servants won these cash prizes somehow made their win that much more meaningful. It touched the core of most people’s hearts as if the consensus was “since I didn’t win it, I am glad they did.” Of even more interest, these three teachers opted to keep their jobs.
These feelings of euphoria come from knowing that while many teachers are not rich, they are enrichers. Few teachers may have gobs of money, but they have taught the nation to count money, make money, and properly invest it. Most teachers are not headliners for their work, but they taught those who have made and continue to make strikingly positive headlines. Many teachers, who happen to be coaches, may not receive pro ball players’ salaries. However, they have certainly coached players of both genders into the pros.
Over the past few weeks, Governor Perdue has announced that she plans to look out for teachers. Steve DeVane, of the Fayetteville Observer, reported less than 48 hours ago that “The General Assembly has frozen salaries for the state's more than 97,000 teachers since the 2008-09 school year because of budget crunches. Normally, teachers' pay follows a sliding schedule that gives an annual bump for every year they accumulate in the classroom.
But lawmakers have adjusted the salary schedule since the freeze to keep pay flat. As a result, teachers who are now finishing their third year earn the same pay as teachers just starting their careers. Those with 14 years of experience are earning the same salary that they did after 11 years.
Teachers are hoping the state's fiscal 2013 budget, which takes effect July 1, will include a raise. Lawmakers could begin discussing the issue during the short session that starts Wednesday.
Gov. Bev Perdue called on the General Assembly in March to unfreeze teacher salaries. Her proposed budget includes raises that average about 1.8 percent for teachers and about 1.5 percent for school administrators.
Spokesmen for House and Senate leaders say it's too early to know whether a raise for teachers - or any state employees - will be in the budget.”
If the freeze thaws out in 2013, perhaps educators’ GPS systems will reroute them to the winding roads that may one day lead them to being rich. Until then, we will keep helping students win in the classroom while simultaneously hoping to win -- the lottery!