I have been teaching for 13 years. Eleven of those years have been in USD 259. During my time here, I have seen many, many changes – some of them good, some not so good.
Many times throughout my career students have asked me why I chose to become a teacher. I tell them that I didn’t choose to become a teacher any more than I chose my eye color or blood type. It’s who I am. I can’t imagine a world where I do any other job.
But lately I have found myself wondering if I should dedicate my efforts elsewhere. This makes me incredibly sad.
This year I accepted a position at a building that starts at 7 a.m. and was supposed to end at 2:10 p.m. My primary motivation was so that I could pick up my kindergartner from school, which is about 30 minutes away from my building.
When we extended the school day, this forced my son into latchkey – which is an added expense to our monthly budget. My salary is the same, as it has been for more years than I care to count. In fact, I also work a part-time job to make up for the ever-growing day-to-day expenses that are not covered by my teaching salary.
Not only is latchkey an unexpected expense, now it seems the cost of our health insurance will also increase. As a cancer survivor, health insurance isn’t a luxury.
During my tenure I have seen many costly intervention programs come and go. I have seen costly evaluation methods come and go. We are currently using costly observation tools. This is in hopes of making me a better teacher. But having my administrator come in, observe and have meaningful dialogue means much more to me than knowing I scored well on “withitness.”
I fear for the future of USD 259. I see the teachers fleeing our district and state. I see the students who will start getting the short end of the stick because teachers are tired.
We are tired of giving up our family time to do work that is not appreciated. We are tired of seeing our bills go up and our paychecks stay stagnant. We are tired of the news and social media attacks on us – often by the very people who are supposed to support us the most.
The Wichita school board needs to consider the message it sends to teachers, and the general public, as it presents its “best and final” contract offers. It is time to honor our dedication to the profession and the district.
Jennifer Sayahnejad lives in Derby.