Mr. Wright is leaving. He’s my daughters’ high school orchestra teacher. Everyone is deeply saddened because he’s an exceptional teacher and person. In fact, he just won the district’s exemplary teacher’s award. His students were crestfallen – he’s such an amazing teacher! This is his dream job. So why is he leaving?
Because he can’t afford to stay: His wife stays at home and he has children he must support and can’t with a teacher’s salary.
This is wrong.
One of my co-workers is a single mom and her two sons are not covered under health insurance because she can’t afford it. Every sniffle, ache and potential accident gives her great cause to worry.
When I was eight years old, my teacher, Ms. Meretta, told my mother I was one of the hardest working kids she had ever had. Until then, no adult had ever said anything positive about me. Really. My parents were concerned that I showed no genius academically. They compared me to other kids (always unfavorably). My other teachers were either distracted by personal problems, or they just seemed mean (maybe they weren’t, but they seemed unapproachable). One teacher said she liked me, but I rushed through my work too quickly to get to the “book table.” I liked reading too much.
I loved Ms. Meretta. I worked even harder after her comment to my mom. But this time, I worked hard not just for myself..but for Ms. Meretta, too.
When I was a young adult, I worked as a summer camp counselor for the YMCA. It was a fun and rewarding job. I loved the energy the kids brought each day. I loved thinking of fun activities and working with them. I laughed every day. I laughed every hour.
I’ve held different jobs but none have had the creative opportunities or the intrinsic rewards of teaching. One of my favorite gifts from a student was a short letter. I had recommended him to go to a school for high-achieving students. He had older siblings who attended a school closer to his home. He always assumed he’d follow their footsteps. It was easy to hold the fastest track time there. It was easy to be the best student. I told him I knew he would succeed at the Academy, a school that was more rigorous and offered both Spanish and Mandarin. “Besides,” I told him. “if you go and you don’t like it, you can always go to the other school.” He went to the Academy and he loved it. He wrote a letter thanking me because he’s so happy and he’s learning so much. His younger sister now attends the Academy, too.
Helping kids is endlessly rewarding.
It’s Teacher Appreciation Week. I wish the media and politicians would stop with the negative talk about teachers and public education. Why pick on educators? Of course not every single teacher is highly qualified, but not every doctor, nurse, accountant, or politician is, either. For every lousy teacher you hear about, there are easily 1,000 fantastic teachers. I’ve had to handle a sixth grade student who slashed her peers with a razor. I’ve had to handle a fourth grade student who crapped his pants every week. I’ve had to handle students who complained of verbally abusive parents and who cried of hunger.
At the time of this writing, women make 79₵ to a man’s dollar. Isn’t it time to remedy this?
Recently, Robin Wright has been in the news for negotiating a salary equal to her male co-star, Kevin Spacey. HOW she did could prove to be an invaluable lesson for women everywhere.
Conduct research. She found that her character was just as appealing if not more, than Kevin Spacey’s.
Arm yourself with the data.
Make your case and make your demand(s). Be prepared to walk away.
Some women argue that Robin is already wealthy. That she makes millions and can walk away. True. But still gutsy, no? She could have settled like so many other actresses. She didn’t settle.
“I wasn’t building my salary bracket. If you don’t build salary bracket with notoriety and presence, you’re not in the game any more. You become a B-list actor.” – Robin Wright
I believe that women’s worst enemy is not a successful man, but a fellow insecure woman.
“This producer was a woman, a type I became acquainted with at the beginning of my stand-up career in Denver. I cared little for them: blondes in high heels who were so anxious to reach the professional level of the men they worshipped, fawned over, served, built up, and flattered that they would stab other women in the back. They are the ultimate weapon used by men against actual feminists who try to work in media, and they are never friends to other women, you can trust me on that.”
― Roseanne Barr
If women are going to gain gender equality, we need to support each other.
I’m buoyed by the following article. It convinces me that the younger generation of women are smart, brave and DO DEMAND what they want:
Aerie Lingerieis an upscale lingerie company. They listened to women and modified their ad campaign: they stopped Photoshopping their models and began a “body positive” lobby. It worked. Their sales increased by 20%.