Posted In: Education Support Professionals, Educator Voices, Moving in Congress, Uncategorized

Concerned educators urge minimum wage hike

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By Amanda Litvinov

When it comes to how our nation’s stagnant minimum wage affects the children who fill our public schools, the statistics are shocking:

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  • Nearly one in four children under the age of 18 has at least one parent earning minimum wage.
  • In the wake of the worst economic recession since the Great Depression, one in five children still lives in poverty, which presents immense obstacles to their learning.
  • More than 16 million children live below the official poverty line, which is defined as an income of $23,550 for a family of four. Those families would need more than twice that income to cover basic living expenses (National Center for Children in Poverty).
  • The average American household made less in 2012 than it did in 1989.

But facts and figures only go so far. Members of Congress need to hear from educators and parents to understand why they must act on behalf of students from working families to raise the federal minimum wage.

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Are your students coming to school hungry? Are your students’ parents forced to work multiple jobs just to put food on the table? Are education support professionals at your school struggling to support their own kids while working full-time to protect and educate others’ children? Are you yourself struggling to live without a living wage? 

Tell us how increasing the federal minimum wage could change the equation for you, your students, and your community.

Here’s just a sample of what we’re hearing from educators across the country:

“I teach 11th grade students who read below grade-level in an urban high school. This year, I have a student who comes to school to eat because there is no food at home. I have another student who can’t stay for tutoring because his mom has enough gas money to get her to work and back OR to pick him up from school, but not both. The majority of my students are on free or reduced lunch–they feel the stress and often don’t see a possibility of change in the cycle. When we talked about  President Obama’s desire to raise the minimum wage, most of them were ecstatic about what that could mean for them personally and for their families. The optimism was tangible in my classroom.”

–Valerie S., high school teacher, Arkansas

“It is a no brainier. Raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour raises people out of poverty, decreases food scarcity and allows more children to come to school prepared for learning.  It also affords more tax dollars for community schools which rely on community tax dollars.”

–Steven S., educator, California

“As a high school teacher, I know first hand that the situation regarding working teens has changed during my 40 years in schools. Earlier in my career, students worked to have spending money for their personal needs and wants. Over the last 10 to 15 years, there has been a great change. The earnings of many of my employed students  go toward paying their families’ rent, buying food, and meeting other essentials needs. An increase in the minimum wage would be a modest step in helping struggling working families survive.”

–Lynne S., high school teacher, Indiana

“I see parents working two full-time jobs to make ends meet who are just over the qualifying line for state assistance. This situation sometimes forces my fourth-graders to become caregivers for younger siblings, which comes before their own homework. My students who are having to take on responsibilities of parents do not have much of a chance to succeed. Raising the minimum wage will allow many more parents to be at home more and in turn help my students succeed in my classroom and beyond.”

–Michelle, elementary school teacher, Arkansas

I am a Head start teacher. Many of our families are in minimum wage jobs and although parents are working full time, they live below the poverty line. On home visits I have seen families with literally nothing but a lawn chair and television in their living room. These families work hard. They want to see their children have food and clothing just as much as you and I do for our own children. It is a struggle for many of these parents just to get their children to school every day, and to many of them time off from work to attend a parent-teacher conference is a luxury they cannot afford. They want a better life for their children, but most of them will not be able to provide them with the tools they need to succeed on a minimum wage income.”

–Maryanne F., pre-K educator, Illinois

“As a teacher of 34 years, I know how class size affects teaching and learning. I also know what happens to learning when children come to school hungry, live in poverty, both parents are trying to make ends meet working two or three jobs and away from home days and evenings. We owe it to this generation to help them be all they can be. They are our future.”

–Meri O., elementary school teacher, Oregon

 

 

 

Reader Comments

  1. Kerry Hyman

    Decent paying jobs in our first-rate, world class industrial/manufacturing sector http://www.businessinsider.com/deindustrialization-factory-closing-2010-9?op=1 that employed millions of our unskilled workers, have been moved offshore so our corporatists can exploit cheap foreign labor (China avg. wage- $1.36/hr. some work for 30 cents/hr. Vietnam avg. wage- 75 cents/hr.), thanks to Free Trade Agreements (NAFTA, GATT, WTO, The S. Korea, Columbia, and Panama FTA, and the upcoming, fast tracked Trans-Pacific Partnership, some have called NAFTA on steroids). This has created what some tout as the “global economy” that is benefitting the corporatists who’ve evolved to the realm of “multinationals.”

    Those jobs paid enough to raise a family on, cleared retail shelves, put our children through college, AND filled the coffers of local, State, and Federal treasuries.

    Legislators (profit-protectors) that have been bought and paid for by corporate BIG MONEY, (Citizens United vs. The Federal Election Commission) are writing policy that furthers the special interests of the corporatists, which is proving to be good for Wall Street, but bad for the USA’s nation interests as a whole. Our working class, the majority of whom cannot afford to invest on the Stock Market, is being pitted against sweatshops in the “global economy” for jobs by our corporatists. Thus the Union busting and the “Right to Work” (for less) legislation popping up in Red States across the nation.

    The downward pressure on USA wages to compete with foreign labor markets is being called by some, “a race to the bottom,” I call it, “being entered in a pissing match with a pole cat.” Corporatists and the Financial sector are claiming more and more ground, while the USA middle class is disappearing. This is the battle of our time, but who is sounding the alarm? The only entity that can stand up for this massive attack upon the USA middle class is our legislators (aka: US Government) and they’ve been labeled by the Right Wing propaganda machine (ALEC, American Heritage, Americans for Prosperity, Heritage Foundation, GOP.gov, etc.) as the ENEMY! BRILLIANT!

    We should probably be asking the question, “What does a post-USA world look like?”

    Reply
  2. Theodore Ziolkowski

    EVERY AMERICAN CITIZEN SHOULD BE CONCERNED ABOUT PASSING A MINIMUM WAGE AND MANDATORY HEALTH CARE INSURANCE TO BE PROVIDED BY ALL EMPLOYERS WITH NO EXCEPTIONS OR EXEMPTIONS TO CREATE A SOCIETY WHERE EVERYONE CAN EARN A LIVING WAGE AND HAVE HEALTH CARE INSURANCE. THIS WILL SIGNIFICANTLY REDUCE ACTS OF VIOLEMCE AND CRIMES AND KEEP EVERYONE MORE SAFE.

    BY INCREASING THE MINIMUM WAGE WE WILL ALSO INCREASE THE LEVEL OF ATTAINMENT BY INDIVIDUAL STUDENTS IN OUR PUBLIC EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM.

    Reply

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