Teachers on summer break? Working extra jobs to make living wageJuly 11, 2019
Their passion for teaching and children may be the only thing keeping them invested in the profession. Spent a day with teachers across America.
Jarrad Henderson, USA Today
Allison Driessen is fed up. She’s used to hearing how lucky she is to have her summers off, granting her a supposedly relaxing break from working life.
Driessen, a science teacher who just finished her eighth year on the job, had the opposite experience. This summer marks her first summer “off” as a teacher. Before, she studied for her master’s degree, taught summer school and even interned at a landscaping company.
“People think we are paid competitively, given that we have two to three months off,” said Driessen, who teaches in Rosemount, Minnesota. “I do not have two to three months off.”
Driessen’s story isn’t unique. Across the country, teachers often trade their summer vacation for other work opportunities to make ends meet. Recent data from the National Survey of Teachers and Principals showed nearly one in five teachers hold a second job during the school year – and teachers say they need to work during the summer, too.
Even with the summer “off,” Minnesota science teacher Allison Driessen maintains a rain garden at her school. (Photo: Alli Driessen)
In early June, a USA TODAY analysis detailed the struggle many American teachers face to afford housing. In response to that story, we heard from readers who didn’t take much issue with the findings. Teachers work only nine or 10 months a year, their argument went, which justifies the level of pay.
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So we talked with educators nationwide about what teachers are up to over their summer months – and how you’ll often find them working a second job rather than lounging at the beach.
Grinding at side jobs
Every summer since he began teaching 14 years ago, Eric Fieldman has worked a summer job in addition to a second job during the school year. The Collingswood, New Jersey, special education teacher has refereed soccer games, worked in home instruction and tutored in past summers. This year, he’s working at a private special education school from July to August.
“I’m always keeping busy,” Fieldman said. “And it’s really a necessity to survive.”
Although he hears from people all the time that teachers are “done in June and then just sit around all summer,” Fieldman said he actually takes home less money in the summer months.
“Not only am I working the extra jobs in the summer, but we don’t get summer pay, as we are on a 10-month pay schedule,” Fieldman said. “So I have money taken out of my check every week to go toward the summer, to supplement it, because the summer jobs don’t pay the same as my regular job.”
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