LETTER: Response to ‘Teacher shortage – it’s more than pay’

Published 11:59 pm Wednesday, February 22, 2023

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To the Editor:

In response to the article “Teacher shortage — it’s more than pay,” published Wednesday, Jan. 4. I share a concern about the lack of support and monetary benefits for our local and national public servants. My experience comes from being the child of both a public school teacher and a police officer who both left their previous careers, which they were passionate about, to pursue financial stability, predictable schedules, and the overall betterment of their family’s futures.

My mother was a public school teacher for 20 years. She had an abundant love for children, as well as teaching. She was very passionate about her job and never once thought about a career change. That was until it became noticed by many that she was very overworked and underpaid. Since I was five years old and my brother was two, she had been a single mother with no help. Money was always tight. She later picked up two other jobs as a bus driver and tutor. She worked endless hours, from dawn to well past dusk. Everyone started noticing that she was overworking herself just to provide for her family and put food on the table. It was painful to watch from a child’s perspective. Just recently, she decided to leave the school system for reasons of lack of financial stability, lack of mental stability, and under-appreciation for the job she put so much effort into.

My father was a police officer for 20 years as well. He had a bountiful love for helping others and providing for his community. He was a single parent for years before his unexpected career change. He never mentioned, much less even thought of being anything other than an officer. During his time with the sheriff’s office, he did many great things and made major accomplishments. However, it was not enough to make up for what he was missing. He struggled greatly, financially, and mentally. Being an officer and having to deal with the things they do and see the things they see is excruciating. This resulted in him taking multiple side jobs, with limited time left for his family and loving children. It wasn’t until this year that he decided he had enough and could not do it anymore. He left his beloved career in which he had so much passion for, for a higher paying job with more monetary benefits, as well as the opportunity for more time with his family.

It is truly a sad reflection of our public priorities that such quality public servants are so quickly deterred from a field where they could and have been so beneficial to the community as a whole. Why are we not doing a better job maintaining our passionate public servants? Our priorities are centric around a governmental push toward political and social acceptance and popularity, that those who are willing to make a difference in our society get pushed away from doing what they love.

Claudia Brinkley