Cashier, custodian, tutor, balloon decorator, Shipt driver, adjunct instructor, property manager, airport ramp agent, medical assistant, studio musician, dance instructor, latchkey facilitator, lifeguard, travel agent, online instructor. and overnight receptionist. Those are some of the part-time positions teachers have taken on to supplement their income.
For years, DPSCD teachers have received a pay that does not reflect their dedication nor education. Educators are the building blocks for success and can have the greatest impact on the future, yet teachers believe they are undervalued and underpaid.
Even those at the top of the pay scale are making less than in 2008. The biweekly pay has pushed many to take on a second job. According to the financial adviser for the Detroit Federation of Teachers, massive pay cuts came under the leadership of state-appointed emergency managers.
“Teachers are grossly underpaid. We are one of the few professions that take our jobs home on a regular basis and we aren’t compensated for it,” said English teacher and part time singer Deborah Spradley.
Stancie Napoleon, a math teacher with the district for 17 years, also works as a cheer coach and Uber/Lyft driver to maintain everyday living.
“My debt to income ratio was not being met in a sufficient way by my DPSCD paycheck,” Napoleon said.
Teachers are one of the most consistent interactions children encounter outside of families and one of the most significant professions in society.
“I feel our students deserve quality teachers just like other districts. I don’t think that our students should get subpar teachers just because they have subpar pay for the teachers,” said Casey Edgar, a teacher who has obtained a second job as an Uber driver to make ends meet. “I was educated within DPS, and I had amazing teachers and those teachers are the reason I was successful and why I came back to DPSCD. I love our students.”
Educators must deal with increased class sizes, more district and standardized tests, changing curriculums, disruptive behavior, chronic absenteeism, and academic negligence of students and parents.
“There are some teachers who have become jaded overtime. They are tired, overworked, and underpaid so then they react or aren’t as committed to their jobs as they would be if they were making what they are worth,” Edgar said.
Now there are fewer people entering the teaching profession and even more leaving. As a result, the children, community, and future of America continue to suffer.
According to an April article in Chalkbeat, “Low pay is a big reason teachers change jobs so frequently in Michigan,” and it might explain why “an estimated 1 in 5 — quit the profession within five years.”
“I do not think it’s restricted to DPSCD,” Edgar said. “I don’t think teachers overall are compensated the way we should be. I cannot pay all my bills with the salary I make with DPSCD.”