Does Your Child’s Teacher Have a Second Job?

Written by Liz Dwyer; Originally published at Los Angelista

If you think your child’s teacher chilled on the beach all summer, tanning and reading chick lit paperbacks, you might want to talk to the restaurant server my family had this evening.

We went to dinner because my sons rocked the house on California’s state standardized test and I think it’s important to do something special to recognize their accomplishment. And, because I believe in publicly acknowledging their grades, I told our server why we were at the restaurant.

He immediately offered his congratulations and shared that he is a fourth grade teacher at a charter school. Waiting tables is one of his summer jobs, and he doesn’t quit doing so once the school year begins.

I’m not surprised. It’s pretty impossible to survive on a teacher’s salary if you live in a major city and you’re only in your second year in the classroom, which was the case for our server. Over the years I’ve known plenty of beginning teachers who left their school in the afternoon and then headed to a second job waiting tables–or working at Macy’s.

No teacher should have to do that. Why is it that our hearts are so hardened as to think teachers don’t deserve to have decent pay and benefits? I really don’t want the person charged with educating my child to be stressed out about paying bills to the point that he’s spending his nights waiting tables.

As for this server, he truly wanted to recognize my two son’s achievements, so he generously hooked them up with a free appetizer–fried zucchini–and then surprised them with this lovely dessert. It was an incredibly sweet and generous gesture.

“Keep Up the Good Work.” Sure, my sons need that message, but so do all the excellent teachers out there. Not all of us think that you’re lazy, good-for-nothings who simply became teachers because you’re losers. You’re not, and I wish you didn’t have to have second jobs.

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