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January 30, 2014

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Maren and Tom, you hit the nail on the head. Teachers are expected to go above and beyond, attend the games, stay late, build canoes, and it's created a double-edged sword: if we ask for more money to compensate for this, we're labeled greedy; if we keep doing what we know needs done (without compensation) it perpetuates the norm.

I just did my taxes. My income was right at what one piece of proposed legislation currently hopes to pay first year teachers (and I'm in year 12) and I earned about an additional third as much with my side work (including contract work for CSTP/OSPI, odd jobs here and there) to help get ends closer to meeting. We're a one-income household, but unfortunately the norm now is that I've had to supplement my "one income" to elevate to a financial condition just a tad south of "comfortable" but thankfully north of "straining."

I knew going in to this profession that I was not going to be rolling in Gates cash or options, but it has also been a really long time since my wife and I could afford a date night at a real restaurant (the kind with menus you actually hold in your hand) or a splurge on a "fancy" coffee made by someone else. Yes, the COLA might save my marriage. (Kidding. Kind of.) Luckily, we were raised to not have expensive taste or go on vacations, so we're the perfect kinds of people to live on an educator's salary.

But, I'm also now at a point where I'm more seriously looking at careers, not just jobs, outside of teaching.

Awesome post, Maren. It's tough to articulate the rationale for a COLA without sounding whiny. You nailed it.

I've spent the last ten years in the bottom right-hand corner of the salary scale. Five of those have been without a COLA.

You're right about the cultural expectations, but part of that is just the nature of who we are; next week my class is going to begin building a full-sized canoe for our school's silent auction. I'm buying the materials and we're working on it during recess, (my break) and the weird thing is that I can't wait to get started on it!

That said, I really, really think we deserve a COLA.

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