Yes we hear all the time that if we take a personal day (which we don't get paid for, have to ask off for at least 5 days in advance, and has to be approved by our principal), not to post pictures on Facebook etc. because the public thinks we are out getting paid for that day. I took two personal days a couple years ago to take my dad to the Masters (his retirement present) and I was told this. Crazy. Just about every teacher I know that is the primary income earner for their family works another job. I did for years, but didn't this past summer because I was just too burned out. Plus I'm a varsity basketball coach and doing summer workouts took up much of my free time (don't get paid for those summer workouts either-- and if you saw my coaches supplement you'd laugh). Another quick example before the game starts: We teach bio/med classes at our high school. You have to be a registered nurse to teach the class. We've had 4 teachers in 4 years. Each of them left because they said if they were going to work this hard, they'd go back to nursing and make more money. Hard to blame them.
When App traveled to Montana a couple years ago a few of my friends went to the game. Said it was one of the most awesome places they had ever seen a game. Their fans are very classy, and passionate at the same time. Of course my vote goes for Kidd Brewer in Boone.
I don't know what the answer is. Look, we are a product of our environment. I think TV, video games, social media all have some negative effect on extra-impressionable people. Throw in mental illness, the degradation of the traditional family unit (mom, dad, two kids, dog, white picket fence), maybe there's something to that. The availability and "sexiness" of guns, throw that in there too. The mass murderers many times have some type of mental illness. But lots of folks have some type of mental issues and never decide to kill a bunch of people. You know, if we were to outlaw all guns, collect every single one and melt them down (if this were even possible), it would definitely solve the mass shootings. And while some folks would figure out ways to kill (knives, fertilizer and diesel fuel), it'd almost certainly lower the murder rate. But of course that isn't feasible, and even if it were what other rights do we take away in the name of safety? Gah, I don't know the answer. It just sucks.
Some interesting ideas and comments here... just a couple of replies from someone who is "in the trenches". Compare teachers salaries, benefits and working conditions to other teachers in the nation and in the southeast. That's the issue here. We are very close to the bottom in pretty much all categories. I'm speaking from statistics, studies and my experience working with teachers from other states. We are looking at a teacher shortage coming in North Carolina. We are in the midst of a talent drain in the field. I keep beating this drum but ask any administrator about the number of good applicants they are getting for teaching jobs. It's horrible. I know many principals that are having to just find "a warm body" for some positions. Don't take my word for it-- ask your local principals. If you do away with the retirement/pension, you better be ready to really bump up those salaries. That's the main draw-- honestly, right now it's the main reason a LOT of teachers have stuck around. Again, I am talking from my experience here. I don't necessarily disagree with replacing the pension with a higher salary but it'll need to be a pretty big chunk. My wife moved to a private school and got a 25% raise (plus 4% each of the last two years) and they have a nice matching 401k. The "normal" work schedule.... The good teachers I know work 10-12 hours a day plus work a few hours on the weekends. The two months off in the summer includes taking classes for keeping your teaching license current. Certainly there's a lot of time off in the summer but not as much as a lot of people think. With the stresses of the job (and yes, I know every job has stress) there has to be a break. The additional paperwork the state has passed down in just the last two years is enough to drive a lot of teachers away-- and it is. The problem is going to get worse.You used to have a lot of teachers that stayed on past their 30 years. The way things are now (salary capped after 30 years), you're better off to retire at 30 years and work 15 hours a week at Walmart. That's a lot of mentors, experienced veteran teachers that have to be replaced. Teacher Ed programs are reporting 15-50% reductions in enrollment across the state. It's getting worse...
Oh, and I have much respect for police and fire personnel. But we're not seeing a big shortage in those jobs in NC. Replacing teachers takes a little longer (4 year degree required).
Yes, I've already decided to hold off retirement. That extra incentive is just too much to turn down. That extra $41,000 per day the delay cost could have paid for a bunch of teacher assistants (or more tax breaks for your group of choice). Looking at things selfishly (which you know is what all of us teachers do), this will be a 1% raise I've had in 7 years. I'm no economist, but I'm not quite sure that's keeping up with the cost of living. As a veteran teacher, I'll get one more bump with the current scale, in 3 more years. Right now, the plan is to teach 7 more years, retire with my full 30 years and go do something else. It sucks because I want to keep teaching but I would make more money retiring and working 15 hours a week at Walmart. It sucks because I'm a good teacher. We've lost some good teachers to private schools and to schools across the border. I know several who are teaching in SC making 10 grand more a year. Teacher education programs across the state are down 25-50%. Going to be a BIG teacher shortage in the next few years. There's already a severe shortage of qualified applicants--ask any school administrator. It's amazing to me that people see that we are 46th in per pupil spending nationally and this isn't a problem.
To answer the original question, yes there are a lot of kids who don't get a decent meal at home. I teach in a rural school (about as far from an "inner city" school as you can be). We have even instituted a "pantry" that the teachers donate to and send food home with kids from time to time. I didn't have much money growing up but never went hungry. Seeing what some of these kids wear to school in the winter is heartbreaking as well.