Dear Principal,

It is with a heavy heart and intolerable student loan debt that I write to inform you that I must resign my position as Second Grade Teacher at Birchwood Elementary School.

While the students of Birchwood are not without their challenges — LucVanPel, in particular, is in need of more social-emotional learning support, those anti-bullying assemblies have not helped at all — in general, I have found our students a joy to teach. (Please note that in accordance with our student privacy policy, I have used only the first three letters of the students’ first and last names).

To begin with, the extreme shortage of substitute teachers has resulted in not-so-subtle pressure from the administration to never get sick, never go to a dentist appointment, never have a pipe burst in your basement and need to be at home for the plumber, never show up for a mandated court appearance, never attend a funeral, and never be the cause of a funeral, etc. This situation is most likely due to the atrociously low pay for substitutes since our district (due to our poverty rate) is one of the lowest paying in the state.

I understand, however, that on the one sick day I took (my meningitis scare), LinVanPel filled in for me; I am indebted to that child. Also, I was forced to delay surgery for the prolapsed uterus I suffered while moving a very heavy wooden trough up three flights of stairs to the auditorium for the manger scene in the Christmas pageant until my spring vacation. You try sitting in circle time every day for three months with an internal organ falling out of your vagina. Uncomfortable.

I do continue to have concerns about ChaBro as he exhibits many signs of depression and there have been rumors amongst the second graders that he has sought mental health counseling from an unlicensed therapist. For a fee.

In addition, my repeated concerns about the hygiene issues of PigPen, a young boy who poses a health risk to all, have been ignored. Not to mention a certain beagle that seems to appear occasionally in my classroom. He has an A in History right now. He seems to know a lot about World War I.

And just to be clear, despite the Incident Reports filed by some of our students (Sch I-don’t-even-know-if-he-has-a-last-name) complaining that the sound of my voice is like that of a poorly played trombone and therefore impossible to listen to with his sensitive musician’s ears, I have provided consistently engaging lessons. Please keep in mind that I create lesson plans for both the intellectually gifted such as LinVanPel (his essay on the Peloponnesian War made me weep) and PepPat who couldn’t spell “baseball” if Joe DiMaggio held a bat to her throat.

Not only do I provide differentiated instruction for a wide range of students, but I provide instruction for an impossibly LARGE AMOUNT of students as well. You try classroom managing 38 seven-year-olds hopped up on a school breakfast of sugar and plastic. Exhausting.

Concerning my finances, as referenced at the beginning of this letter: I find I cannot possibly service my student debt, much less survive on take-home pay of $426 per week.

I’m beginning to think I didn’t really do the math when I idealistically enrolled in my education program and signed up for all those loans. I did not realize that my beginning pay as a Step 1 teacher would be roughly the same as that of a teenager working part-time at In-N-Out Burger.

I came to that conclusion by calculating the hours spent teaching, grading tests and homework, preparing lessons, shopping for classroom supplies that will never be reimbursed, calling home to LucVanPel’s parents to schedule her detentions, staying after school for LucVanPel’s detentions, attending weekly after-school staff meetings and then dividing it by my salary (after deductions for state and federal taxes, health care, union dues, and a retirement fund that I won’t be able to access until I’m in my late 70’s). And yes, I have factored “but you have summers off” into the equation.

This puts my hourly rate at about $10.50 per hour. In-N-Out Burger, the industry leader in wages, pays $11.37 per hour.

As it turns out, my weekend job as a Pot Shop Line Stander is making me more than my teaching salary. No surprise there. Drugs pay.

Getting back to my earlier point about our district’s economic status: Perhaps some of these issues are the result of the way in which our public schools are currently funded. When at least half of your school budget is calculated as a percentage of the property taxes of your community, it’s inevitable that the wealthy as shit districts will have well-funded schools and the poorer districts will have just plain old shit. How can this possibly be fair?

In conclusion, despite the fact that I know I am a good teacher and I truly care for my students and colleagues, I simply cannot afford to continue this work. My concerns have fallen on deaf ears. If not deaf, then ears that can only hear them as Schroeder (screw privacy), our young Beethoven devotee would hear them: “Mwah wuh wuh wah, wuh wah.”

Miss Othmar