Sunday, June 25, 2017

A Teacher Sounds Off

My teacher-friend, Brian Davis, posted this rant on FB this morning, inspired by the chart researched and created by John David French. I want to give him a larger audience for a vital truth OK's policy makers don't seem to want to recognize.

Brian Davis is a nationally-recognized geography teacher who lives and works at Central Middle School, in Bartlesville, OK. His wife is a National Board Certified Teacher. When he is not teaching, he can usually be found in a car driving his daughters batty with DAD jokes.

"Sorry, long rant ahead.
Chart and research by John David French*

According to the chart, this is what I need as a raise just to give me the purchasing power of a teacher's salary in 2008. My wife is also a teacher with five more years of experience than I have. Therefore that number is over $13K for our family. $6.5k is not really a raise. IT IS A COST OF LIVING ADJUSTMENT!!! 

Sooo, pardon me when I don't get ultra excited when a $ 1K to 4K "raise" is offered.

A true $5k raise would require $11.5K more each year. Coincidentally that's about how much more we would make in NW Arkansas or Texas. That's $20K to $32 K difference per year. If we finish our careers in Oklahoma we are leaving $800K plus on the table.

Ironically. $6500 is about what I made in my side hustles last year driving for Uber and extra-duty contracts. $6500 is about what we raised doing fundraisers last year for softball and mission trips for the kids. (Our barbecue ribs are really good. Hit me up the weeks before the Super Bowl) and we have added more to our side hustle this year.

If Heather and I have this "raise" (adjustment) We could give up some of the following extra jobs that we currently do:
  • Social Studies Department Chair 
  • Language Arts Department Chair
  • Team Leader for our perspective 
  • UBER DRIVER (this is cut back but still doing it occasionally)
  • Summer school teacher (both of us)
  • Geography Trainer
  •  Science Olympics coach (unpaid)

I AM A good teacher. No, I AM A GREAT teacher.

We both are, but how much more feedback could I give my students, how many more speakers could I bring in to enhance my lessons, or more time to tweak my lessons, how much better of a trainer or coach or department chair could I be, if I could afford to give up some of the side hustle? How much more time would I have as a father and a husband?
What if the side hustles were truly extra. I wouldn't have to plan 6 months out for new tires. 

The dryer going out would not be an emergency, I wouldn't have $10k in medical debt. (That's another rant in itself). 

I could replace and fix the laundry list of things wrong with my house, I could take a nice trip with my wife and kids not softball related. 

I could go fishing a little more. 

I could fund my IRA. I could worry less about how we are going to pay for college. 

I could drive cars from this decade. 

I could encourage our brightest students to follow the passion I have for educating. Including my own daughter who would be a phenomenal teacher.
I especially feel let down. When I was 12 yrs old my dream was to coach baseball and teach social studies. I didn't start out as an education major because I knew what my mom made but with the passage of HB1017 I thought, OK. I won't get rich but I can at least make a living teaching now.  And I did well the 1st 10 years. In my 2nd year, I made what my Mom made in year 22. I had a saving account, had an IRA that had a positive inflow, I traveled some and I had time to relax.
Folks. I write this sitting on a bed in our fireworks tent. 

I figured up I will have 4 days this summer with no obligations. 

What's this I hear about teachers having summers off? I'M TIRED!!!

And too many teachers in Oklahoma are sadly choosing to leave the state, or the profession, to adequately support their own families. Thank you, Brian, for staying, and for pointing out this inconvenient truth.

*John David French: "I posted it last week after my uncle suggested I figure out how far behind the inflation curve we've gotten. I used the lower end of estimates with 1.42% average yearly inflation over the past nine years, so the numbers should be slightly on the conservative side. I highlighted 2018 since that would be the earliest we could see a raise if the legislature finally decides to act next year."


  1. BRIAN!! BRIAN!! I will correct when I get home! Brian Davis!

  2. sorry you are going through this. we are all going through this in all industries. sadly. theu have their methods of out of operating in others. best of luck

  3. I don't believe we are ALL going through this. I have been teaching for 24 years in Oklahoma. I am also GOOD teacher. I recently proudly watched my son graduate with a 4 year degree just like I hold and walk into a job that pays twice what I make! I have been working for 24 years! Teachers like me laid the groundwork for his success! Yet we have not had a pay raise in 10 years! There IS something wrong with this picture!

  4. It's the same in Idaho. Why can't our country value the future of it's children?