These pay differences wouldn't bother me so much if those jobs required a college degree. Who taught the mailman how to read? Who gave the sanitation worker the math skills to be able to map out directions to find locations? Teachers. Hard-working, dedicated, professionals. Passionate, caring human beings. All we hear about in the paper are statistics, FCAT scores, pass/fail, et cetera. What about the "real" stories about the struggles of teachers and their students in the classroom? The obstacles that teachers have? The successes in the classroom?
In the past thirteen years in this career, I have had the opportunity to affect so many lives. I have students coming back to me, sending me letters of thanks from parents and students alike for making a lasting impact on their lives. I love my job. It's not an easy job, but I love it. In 1998 I was kicked in the stomach while pregnant. In 2000 I was injured several times by a violent student. In 2001 I was hit in the head with a table and knocked unconscious by a student. There's no question that teachers have a difficult job. These negotiations will damage the profession in this county forever if educators are not adequately compensated for their jobs. Teachers are disappointed and frustrated. They are not willing to work twenty-plus hours of overtime a week so that Superintendent Rudy Crew can receive his nine percent!
It has been said that we teachers "walked out" on our students to attend the school board meeting in October. However, it was Dr. Crew who walked out on us that afternoon. As soon as we got up to speak and pour our hearts out, he left.
In closing, let me tell you a brief story. Driving downtown to speak at the school board meeting, I passed a group of homeless people. I asked myself: Why I am going downtown to fight for a few thousand dollars when these people are sitting here, without even a roof over their heads? It really bothered me most of the morning. I wondered if it was a sign to turn around, go back to work, and help with the "real" problems in the world. But I didn't. Those homeless people were there to remind me that their situation didn't happen to them in one day. They begged, pleaded, reached out for help and no one listened. Just as the teachers did at the last school board meeting. Just as we do every day we protest on the street. There are teachers reaching out for help, and no one is listening.