On teacher pay

10635710_10152586250603926_8540224056547831404_nI talk about teaching an awful lot on this site, right?  Enough that there are people who have admitted to me that they regularly skip past posts on the topic.  (Which, for the record, is fine.  I’m going to write about whatever the hell I want; you, in turn, have the right to ignore whatever the hell you want.)

One common subject connected to teaching that I have more or less completely ignored is teacher pay.  I can’t think of a single post that I’ve devoted to the topic, and I don’t even think it’s come up tangentially (other than “I don’t get paid enough for this shit” types of gripes) more than a couple of times.  There are several reasons for this, chief among which being the fact that virtually everyone feels like they’re not paid enough for what they do.  Do I think teachers are paid enough?  No, I don’t, particularly in Indiana.  Do I think it’s an especially winning issue to discuss a lot?  No, not so much.

Here’s the thing, though, and I know I talked about this during my job hunt this summer:  Indiana has effectively made it illegal (and that’s not hyperbole; it’s the literal truth) to pay me what I’m worth.  It is illegal to tie raises to seniority, meaning that they can’t pay me for my experience.  It is illegal to tie raises to education– ponder, for a moment, the amazing fact that teachers can’t make more money by getting advanced degrees– meaning that my not-one-but-two Master’s degrees are worth precisely bupkis to any school district that might be looking to hire me.

Now, I started teaching in my current district before all these laws kicked in, meaning that my current salary is grandfathered.  I made a comfortable salary last year, and received a frankly scandalous raise when I changed jobs this year– I am absolutely not complaining about my current pay, but it’s not going to last long.  I am not rich by any means, but if it weren’t for all these credit card debts hanging over my head from my twenties and my absurd level of student loan debt, I was making plenty of money to live well, if not extravagantly.  Those other things are my fault; they don’t make my salary less.

I got as far as talking salary with one district during my interview process.  They offered me twelve thousand dollars a year less than I was making last year– flatly impossible.  Upon further investigation, the pay cuts at other districts would have ranged from six to ten thousand dollars.

Under current Indiana law, no new teacher will ever make what I make again.  I know people who have been teaching for five years who still make starting teacher salary– around $32K.  Once they’re in their thirteenth year, which I’m currently in, they’ll still be making right around that same $32K, although they’ll probably have managed a couple of one-or-two-percent district-wide shame raises during that time.  But not anything meaningfully different once inflation comes into play.

I bring all this up for two reasons:  one, I spent $600 on some new suit jackets tonight, a number that may jump to $800 if a navy blue jacket in my size that I liked comes in in the next couple of days.  Those in the picture aren’t all new, but four of them are.  I had to do this to meet my new boss’s expectations on how the folks in his office dress.

(Not complaining.)

We went to Taco Bell for dinner.  Taco Bell is hiring.  They have a big sign– that I couldn’t get a picture of on account of I was driving– in their drive-thru, indicating that assistant managers can make up to $38,000 a year and building managers– they called it something else, but I don’t recall what– can make up to $50,000 a year.

Meaning that an assistant manager at a fast food restaurant can make $500 a month more than a starting licensed teacher– a job that, mind you, requires a college degree, which I doubt (correct me if I’m wrong) assistant managing a fast food restaurant does– and that a manager manager can make more than I did teaching last year, with two Master’s degrees and twelve years of teaching experience.  And that, furthermore, the teachers will never reach those salary levels, because it is effectively illegal to give us raises.(*)

And I’m not trying to denigrate fast food employees here– I’ve done that job, and I have tried to never treat a fast food employee with anything less than perfect respect since, and keep in mind that I have a second job where I work behind a register right now– but god damn it you should make more teaching than you do at fucking Taco Bell.  Fucking society depends on our asses.  This is bullshit.

(*) I’m going to amend my earlier statement, because thinking about it I know that I’ve talked about the politics of teacher pay before– but I still think I’ve refrained from generalized “WE DOAN MAKE ‘NUFF MONEY” types of posts.   It is not precisely illegal to give us raises– they can be tied to student test scores and evaluations and things like that, but the way the laws work it is trivially easy for districts to simply declare that they don’t have the money to pay us more– and the governor and the legislature are also trying to starve public schools of funds any way they can, so the districts are more often than not telling the truth.

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First day of school

Something has occurred to me.  My brother, who has gotten the good looks in our family, has dressed as Axl Rose for Halloween on at least a couple of occasions, and has a phenomenal costume.

My physique is more appropriate for Homer Simpson.

Next Halloween, we’re both dressing as Axl, only I’m going to make him wear a sign around his neck with “1987” on it.  I will dress identically and wear a sign around my neck reading “2014.”

It will be brilliant.

In other news, I’m about to go spend a week’s salary, literally, on new clothes.  


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STATION IDENTIFICATION: Infinitefreetime.com

Forgot to do this last weekend, and I’ve had a swarm of new followers lately, so let’s do a Wednesday station identification.  Check out The Benevolence Archives for your Kindle or smart device for just $2.99!

I’ve decided to start doing periodic– maybe once or twice per month– reminders on the main page of the blog of the various places I can be found on the Interwebs.   I pick up 50-75 or so new followers between the blog and Twitter every week, so it’s probably a useful thing for new readers.  Regular folks, if you see the STATION IDENTIFICATION tag, feel free to ignore it.

So here’s where to find Luther Siler on the interwebtron:

  • You can follow me on Twitter, @nfinitefreetime, here.  I am on Twitter pretty frequently as I use it for whining while I’m writing in the mornings.  I generally follow back if I can tell you’re a human being.
  • I’m starting to try and use Goodreads more often too.  My author page is here; I am accepting any and all friend requests at the moment.  My novel Skylights has recently had an ISBN assigned and a page created for it if you want to add it to a bookshelf.
  • My official Author page on Amazon is located here.
  • Feel free to Like the (sadly underutilized) Luther Siler Facebook page here.
  • And, of course, you’re already at infinitefreetime.com, my blog.  You can click here to be taken to a random post.
  • And, because I can’t possibly link it enough, you can read my novella The Benevolence Archives for your Kindle or smart device for just $2.99 if you click on that thar linky-thing there.


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Another early look at the SKYLIGHTS cover

As always, the caveat that this is preliminary as hell and is basically just a color test– my artist and I exchanged half-a-dozen emails last night about various aspects of this, including one thing I griped about (the sky’s too pink.)  But I’m still too excited not to share it.

Basically at this point there are helmets and logo work to do (I approved a helmet design yesterday) and then refining the colors until gorgeousness happens.  This is what Casey and Jamie’s final work looks like so I have no doubt that the final colors on this will be spectacular.

I’m going to restrain myself from posting any further updates until you get the final image.  Hopefully in a couple of weeks; finalizing the colors will take a bit.



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