Amy Roberts: R is for Raise |

Amy Roberts: R is for Raise

Red Card Roberts

The reason I’m not named Molly is very likely sitting in jail at the moment. At least according to my father, who was a teacher the first several years of my life. When I was born my parents didn’t know what to name me.

My mom was lobbying for Molly, but my dad refused. He had a student by that name and despised her. She was rude to him, she was mean to other kids, and he was convinced she’d end up with multiple tattoos and a long felony record.

Over the years, that story has been retold at family gatherings, on my birthday, and whenever my dad meets someone named Molly. But this story isn’t about my name; it’s about my dad having started his career as a teacher, my mom who followed suit and a school district I applaud.

Like many baby boomers, my parents met in college, got married in their early 20s and started their family immediately.

By the time my younger sister was born, my dad realized he could not support his family on a teacher’s salary and had begun a small lawn service for extra income in the summer months.

Eventually that business grew enough, as did a few of his others, that he could quit teaching and focus on those pursuits. About that time, my mom went back to school to earn her degree in education. The same year my dad ended his teaching career, my mom started hers.

So it’s fair to say I grew up in a home that championed both teachers and quality education. I also grew up watching the following:

• My parents leaving the house by 6:30 a.m. to be available for students who needed to meet before school.

• Returning home long after dinnertime, because a student needed them after school. Or they had to drive a student home because his or her parents forgot them.

• Either of them staying up well past midnight to finish grading papers or work on lesson plans.

• Coming home from parent-teacher conferences emotionally drained and completely demoralized. More than once a parent berated them and exclaimed, “I pay your salary!” Then demanded their special child received a better grade (Presumably these were Molly’s parents).

• Going to the store so my parents could spend their hard-earned money on someone else’s kid. New clothes, pencils, a book, food, soap — those were some of the items included in our budget for another family.

• An expectation my parents be available 24/7 as teachers and therapists, raise students to be respectable adults and prepare them for the real word, with next to no resources, using zero discipline and not hurting anyone’s feelings.

• Blame when someone’s child didn’t get into the college of his or her choice, and told to mind their own business when they reported to a parent their child was making bad choices.

In the summer months, which worked out to fewer than 10 weeks between wrapping up the school year and preparing for the next one, my parents had only a slightly easier schedule. They spent those months attending continuing education classes, learning new curriculum, as well as new assessments and programs, new lessons, new methods, taking professional development courses, and planning. Sometimes they also taught summer school or tutored for extra money.

If the average American worker works 2,080 hours per year (40 hours per week multiplied by 52 weeks), teachers work over 2,400 hours per year (12 hours per day multiplied by five days per week and by 40 weeks).

So last week, when the Park City School District announced a compensation package that provides a $7,000 boost to salaries for all licensed staff members and a first-year teacher’s salary of $50,700, I could only applaud. Using the formula above, that’s just over $21 per hour for a stressful, demanding job that requires an expensive degree, lots of unpaid overtime and serves a role indispensable to a free society.

So kudos to the school district for prioritizing teachers and doing its part to curb the teacher shortage. Now, could you please work on not running the sprinklers four hours each day and during rain storms? We’re short on water, too.

Amy Roberts is a freelance writer, longtime Park City resident and the proud owner of two rescued Dalmatians, Stanley and Willis. The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer. Follow her on Twitter @amycroberts.

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