Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Story of Adam (and Eve?)

This is the story of Adam, who commented on our little blog about his girlfriend's (we'll call her Eve) experience getting a teaching position in Madison (we believe).   We sincerely appreciate Adam for coming forward and speaking his piece.  But on the flip side, he underscores that old quote about statistics: What they suggest is intriguing, but what they conceal is vital.   Adam shares some numbers with us...just enough for us to poke a few holes in the logic bag.

ADAM's e-mail comment is provided completely uncut.   All we did is split it up into bite-size chunks and offered our response.

Enjoi!   And much thanks to Adam for bravely going where very few venture.

My girlfriend and I have been together for 3 years, and she is finally moving up to the Madison area.

You do not say from where your GF moved "up to Madison".  Is it Janesville? Beloit?  Illinois?  Or some ultra-rich suburb somewhere inbetween.  Makes a difference in salary grids.
You also say "my girlfriend"...NOT my fiance...although you've been together 3 years.  While not trying to pry into things personal, it's important to consider whether this relationship will eventually become a legal merger of both people and finances.  It helps figure out the money thing on.

We started looking for apartments that would cost between 1,000 and 1,1000 a month. After getting her contract, (being a teacher for 10 years mind you), we have now decided that we can afford only 800 dollars a month.

SP-EYE: we have some data to work with.  10 yrs removed from college puts her in her at about 32-34 years old.  So we're guessing you're both past the crazy kid-out-o-school splurging on "me" things. Hopefully.

10 years teaching experience translates to a salary in the low to mid-40Ks....with only a B.A.   But since she has 10 years experience she has to have renewed her license...probably twice.   We're guessing she must have accumulated two 6-packs of credits post Bachelors, so we looked at Madison's "Track 2"

Madison' s Track 2 at 10 yrs experience translates to a salary of $43,523 per year  (yes, for 9 months Adam).  On a monthly basis, that translates to gross pay of $3,627 per month (again spread over 12 months).  The guiding philosophy is not to pay more than 25% of your gross towards rent, so...yes....we would agree that SHE should limit an apartment rental rate to $907/month or less.   But if you're living together, don't you have TWO incomes, Adam?  If you're bringing home any bacon at all, then surely you can afford more. ARE working, aren't you?

And actually, she could probably afford a small house or condo and get in before values really start rising and interest rates are still low.  Payments on a $150K mortgage (30 yrs) would be about $675/mo.    Oh gotta tack on probably $300 to $350/month for property taxes.  

But let's dig a little deeper.  One teacher we know pretty well has been out of school exactly 2 know...low on the salary grid totem pole.  And that would be in the heart of Milwaukee, where the grids aren't very friendly.   But even she can afford $700/month for rent.  So we're having a hard time figuring out how TWO of you, and the teacher with 8 more years on the grid, are struggling to pay $800/month.  Do YOU work, Adam?  Just askin'....cuz the numbers aren't adding up, yo!  Or do you two both drive Mercedes?   Eatin' sushi...or seabass... every night?  Sorry...forgive us for the absolutely shamelessly gratuitous Seabass reference.

 She took a 14,000 pay cut to come to Madison. In case you had not noticed that is about an entire years worth of rent.

Zing! Ouch...that stings, Adam!  But, yes, we noticed.  Funny though...we instantly looked at it from the angle that you must be some catch (LJH-esque?) for someone to take a $14,000 pay cut.  And possibly even foot the entire bill for an apartment!  But is blind, right?   We are very familiar with a damn fine dude who quite his job and moved halfway across country to be with the one he loved.  That didn't end well

But of course while it is implied that she came up here for you, maybe it was for family...or a chance to work in a better school district.  One wouldn't take a pay cut AND choose to work in a worse district, would they?  We think you're probably a pretty good catch, Adam....but THAT good?   Not after 3 years and no ring!  ZING!   How'd that feel, buddy?!  :-) 

Then comes the aspect on working conditions...but that is like trying to explain how to gut a fish to a member of PETA.

Working conditions?  Really?.  You make it sound like being a teacher is akin to working 16 hour days in some 3rd world sweat shop for peanuts.  Um...REALLY, Adam?  Much of the rest of the world works 260 days per year.  When was the last time you checked the base pay of ...say...firefighters or police?

Adam...we're afraid to have to tell you, but someone slipped you the Kool-Aid.  We grow tired of this whole "working conditions" crap.   And that' not fair to crap.  

We do dig the PETA/fish gutting analogy though.  That was clever.

 I am sure you are one of those people that say things along the lines of, "don't get me wrong...I don't hate teachers", or "teachers get their summers off so this is more than fair." Truth is, that is exactly what I would expect someone to say that doesn't know a thing about the situation. 

SP-EYE:They say that expectations are only met with disappointment, Adam...and  we wouldn't want to disappoint you. Fact is, Adam...we DO respect and value least the ones that aren't whiney.  Oh...did we say that out loud?  We have both publicly and behind the scenes been pushing to raise the floor for teachers' base salaries...but also to establish a cap.

But the whiney ones and the dead wood have to go.  We'd love to get a whole bumper crop of new energized teachers that aren't going to drink the Kool Aid.  Poor working conditions?  Please!  Not sure you' know what poor working conditions were unless it but you on the behinder.  What is needed to create "good" working conditions?  Ice cream socials every Monday?   Only having to teach two classes a day?   We're sure that teaching five classes a day is absolutely inhumane.

Have you gone into a school lately to shadow a teacher to see what they do? I didn't think so.

Can't say we've shadowed a teacher for a day see we work for a living.  But we did see a teacher's shadow on Groundhog Day this we get half credit?  

Oh...and that's 12 months a year that we work....260 days....not 190.   But we know some teachers very well.  There are teachers (and administrators) in the family.

Honestly Adam..have YOU shadowed a teacher lately?  Of course, if you're not working, maybe you have the time to do that.  Tell you what though...we'd challenge YOU to spending a day in a teacher's class right alongside with us.  Got the stones for that, Adam?  You know our number.

I wish I could say it in a way that would make sense to you, but the truth is, it will never makes sense to you. Fairness is all that you preach about, but can't for one moment understand what fair actually is until you walked a day in their shoes.
12:58 p.m., Saturday May 18

Geeez if you aren't the pot callin' the kettle black with all the negativity!.  Were you asleep in class when they talked about taking the high road?  Wanna talk about fair, Adam?  We know quite a few folks in the public sector that are paid LESS than people with LESS seniority and LESS productivity in the same job.  Can't say as we've ever heard of such a thing with teachers.

Here's a little life lesson, is quite frequently unfair.  It's how one deals with it that is the true measure of a man or woman.