Editor's Note: Money Matters
Debbie Ennels, who appears on this issue’s cover with her grandson, loves her job as a classroom aide. But after her landlord sold her apartment building, Ennels wound up in a shelter, where she and her grandchild live with recovering drug addicts, parolees, and others whose lives are Her take-home pay—a scant $804 a month—left her with no alternative.
Stories like hers illustrate why we must fight for professional pay for teachers and education support professionals. In this issue, you’ll meet Bob Moehlig, a veteran math teacher who moonlights as a locksmith, and second-year special ed teacher Allison Wegg, who has to borrow money from her parents to get by. Then there’s Jerry Parham. The Virginia bus driver and classroom aide doesn’t just have a second job—he has a third, a fourth, and a fifth.
More districts than ever offer starting salaries of at least $40,000, the minimum NEA believes all teachers should be paid. And from Alabama to Illinois, ESPs have won hard-fought battles for a living wage. But far more needs to be done. The statistics are distressing—nearly half of all teachers leave the profession, and 70 percent of ESPs make less than $25,000.
Visit NEA’s professional pay site (www.nea.org/ pay) to see how salaries stack up, find ways to make a difference, and arm yourself against myths (like the age-old “teachers work just six hours a day” chestnut). Ask your friends to sign a pledge supporting educators and professional pay. And tell us what you think.