Thoughts, links & ideas from the 2008 National Teacher of the Year

Each time I've taken off in a plane since May (which is a lot), I've been writing in my journal, then adding these journal entries on this blog.

Check in often, or subscribe to get headlines fed to you! Oh, and the views expressed here are not those of anyone but me.  And anyone who happens to share the same views, I guess.

(Note: the blue posted dates are actually the dates I wrote the journal entries, not when I posted them online.)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

We're Free!

Redmond, OR


Here’s an interesting idea: let’s have teachers work for free!


Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski, in an effort to keep schools open, has asked teachers to finish out the school year on a volunteer basis.  In our case, that would be at least half a month’s salary (although the latest talk in Prineville is of 10-20 more days cut, in addition to the 10 we’re cutting already.  Worst case scenario: school ends at the end of April.)


But that’s where teachers would prove their undying commitment to children by donating a few thousand dollars worth of labor to keep the doors open.  Teaching has often been compared to missionary work, and now the comparison might become more valid.  Many teachers already have to find supplemental employment in the summertime to support their teaching habit (and take continuing education classes, as well.)  New teachers with young families often qualify for free or reduced lunch in the district in which they teach (and many even qualify for food stamps.)


To his credit, Kulongoski has agreed to take a 5% pay cut, and is encouraging other state employees to do the same.  The Governor is a great guy and has generally been an advocate for children and their education.  He has told me personally that his top three priorities are education, education, and education.  (I didn’t fully believe him, but education is probably in his top three.)


But I find his statement about teachers working for free to be a bit difficult to understand and digest.  Almost certainly, unions will protest.  And the public will be divided further between those who see teachers as overpaid, underworked whiners, and those who regard them as professionals who shape the future of our world.


Unfortunately, educators will again be caught in the trap between doing what’s best for children and doing what’s best for their own family’s livelihood.  It’s becoming tougher and tougher to achieve balance.



  1. WOW! Hadn't heard that one yet.

  2. Not sure why that posted from Cory - that last comment was from your loyal blogging fan - Runninggal!

    Guess we better start sending out support letters to friends and families like missionaries do.

    We qualified for food stamps, by the way, and WIC, the first 4 years Cory was teaching. Sitting in line, getting food from one arm of the state government 'cause the other arm of the government couldn't pay us enough. It felt strange to be in this position after just completing our Master's degrees and working full time, but there we sat.

    We still might qualify, I am not sure, but I am bringing in half of what Cory makes now which pushes us into the safe zone in regards to the family budget.

    But, we still think it's worth it! :) Working with students keeps us young, right?!

  3. p.s. I personally think this is a low blow from the governor.

  4. I think the Governor should forfeit his salary and work for free! This places educators in a no-win situation.

  5. Ouch. It's crazy that with Master's degrees and working full time that people are put in that position. Of course, research shows that a Masters doesn't necessarily guarantee great teaching and learning. But someone who has invested in a quality education and is also getting high quality results in their classroom shouldn't be scraping to get by.

  6. sorry to be filling up your comments! Don't you have an email? Anyway, this cracked me up so I had to share it. Cory asked a buddy of his at school who is working closely with the state and district in regards to all this funding what they thought of Kulongoski's idea to have teacher's work for free. Here's what that friend just emailed to Cory:

    It’ll come out in tomorrow’s newsletter, but to give you an idea of how REA felt in our meeting last night, it was suggested that I send out a survey with the following question:

    Should we work for free?

    Choose one

    No or Hell no

    Does that answer the question?

  7. I have to share this. My mom who suffers from Alheizmers Disease was listening to the news about the govenor suggesting teachers work for free. She is a retired educator (33 years) She heard the news and all of a sudden said " You have got to be kidding. They already put in too many free hours!" I guess we need to get her excited about something more often! It certainly stimulated her. :)


Feel free to question, disagree, challenge, or make suggestions! I'm a big boy. I can take it.