Don’t force me to leave, I can’t put food on the table

It’s late and I’m going through an abundance of emails.  We received this one from a teacher who has not yet received a timely response from our Board.  It struck me as one that I’d respond to immediately.



Dear Board of Education –
I am very concerned that you do not seem interested in restoring employee compensation for next school year so I wanted to share my story with you so that you can fully understand the stress that some of your educators are facing.

I began my teaching career in 2010, the first year of pay freezes.  I knew all my life that I wanted to become a teacher so I didn’t hesitate to accept a position in Jeffco despite what everyone told me about teacher’s pay.  I now have four years teaching experience and a master’s degree in education and yet I make just slightly more than a brand new teacher with zero experience.  I make about $36,000/year and it doesn’t take a math teacher to know that’s just not enough.


I decided to stay in Jeffco because this is my community and these are the schools that I and my family attended.  I’m saddened to see that despite the fact that I stood by Jeffco and agreed to weather the storm through budget cuts that you refuse to stand by me when I need it.

Without reasonable compensation I can’t afford to pay off the student loans that I took out to become a teacher.  I know many other qualified teachers like myself who are very seriously contemplating leaving the profession we love with all of our hearts because we simply cannot support ourselves or our families.  I personally have to take on private tutoring students and teach night classes
just to make ends meet.

I understood when I became a teacher that I would never lead a wealthy lifestyle and do not expect that.  However, as I enter my fifth year teaching in Jeffco making only a first year teacher’s salary I am not sure how much longer I can stay.  Cost of living has increased over 4 years time and to not recognize that is disrespectful to all of our hard work.  Asking for our steps to be restored is a very reasonable request.

Your focus on student results is warranted but you seem to miss the connection between student outcomes and teacher compensation.  If you can’t invest in keeping our good teachers in the district, all you do is replace us with inexperienced teachers who lack the expertise to achieve the outcomes you esire and will lack the good mentor teachers to help them improve their craft!

I beseech you to remember that attracting AND retaining good teachers is the best possible move you can make for Jeffco’s students!

Please don’t force me to leave my beloved profession because I can’t put food on my table.  I expect you to do what is right and honor the hard work I and my colleagues do and honor the agreement to restore our steps for next year.

Thank you for your consideration,

Señorita Abby Wagner
Spanish Teacher/Language B Department Head/ Advisement Coordinator
Alameda International High School