Study says more tak­ing sec­ond job

Austin American-Statesman - - METRO & STATE - By Ter­rence Stutz and Tawnell D. Hobbs

More Texas teach­ers are strug­gling to pay their bills.

Just ask the 4 in 10 teach­ers — a record fig­ure — who moon­lighted this year.

A new sur­vey by re­searchers at Sam Hous­ton State Uni­ver­sity shows that the per­cent­age of teach­ers who held sec­ond jobs this past school year was the high­est in the three decades that the study has been con­ducted.

The sur­vey also pointed to a po­ten­tial toll in the class­room as two-thirds of those who moon­light said the qual­ity of their teach­ing would be bet­ter if they didn’t have to work an­other job.

But most say they can’t af­ford to quit.

The fig­ures rep­re­sent a jump of nearly 50 per­cent from two years ago.

Teach­ers also were asked about work­ing dur­ing the sum­mer months — and 56 per­cent re­ported they held a job while on sum­mer break. That fig­ure also was up from the pre­vi­ous sur­vey in 2008.

Nena Har­ri­son, a third-grade math and sci­ence teacher at Mar­cus Ele­men­tary School in Dal­las, is not sur­prised by the in­crease in moon­light­ing. She works two ex­tra jobs dur­ing the school year: one as an af­ter-school tu­tor five days a week and the other as an adult ed­u­ca­tion in­struc­tor two days a week.

That’s 11 hours of ad­di­tional work on top of her reg­u­lar class­room du­ties at Mar­cus. The av­er­age moon­light­ing teacher works an ex­tra 15.2 hours a week.

“It can be tough for a teacher with a fam­ily to make ends meet,” said Har­ri­son, whose biggest ex­penses in­clude col­lege tu­ition for two chil­dren, her stu­dent loan pay­ments and the mort­gage on her house. Ex­cept for her first few years as a teacher, she has al­ways held a sec­ond job dur­ing the school year.

“My reg­u­lar salary has never been enough to cover all the ex­penses, and that was es­pe­cially true when my hus­band was out of work for a while,” she said. “But that’s just the way it has to be right now. It could be worse. Some teach­ers I know are work­ing as wait­resses.”

In con­duct­ing the sur­vey, Sam Hous­ton State re­searchers ques­tioned 907 teach­ers this spring about out­side em­ploy­ment and its ef­fects on their reg­u­lar du­ties. The study is fi­nanced by the Texas State Teach­ers As­so­ci­a­tion and has been done ev­ery two years since 1980.

“It’s a shame that so many of our ded­i­cated ed­u­ca­tors have to strug­gle with ex­tra jobs to sup­port their fam­i­lies, but they have no choice,” said Rita Haecker, pres­i­dent of the as­so­ci­a­tion.

She said the find­ings un­der­score the need for im­proved salaries.

Al­though many law­mak­ers say higher teacher pay should be a pri­or­ity in ev­ery ses­sion, the Leg­is­la­ture may have trou­ble de­liv­er­ing on that pri­or­ity next year be­cause of a rev­enue short­fall that is ex­pected to ap­proach $18 bil­lion over the next two years.

Most state agen­cies have al­ready been told to cut their bud­gets in an­tic­i­pa­tion of the fi­nan­cial crunch.

The study also noted that 47 per­cent of those sur­veyed said they have se­ri­ously con­sid­ered leav­ing the pro­fes­sion. But that would be dif­fi­cult for many of them be­cause a ma­jor­ity are the ma­jor bread­win­ners in their fam­i­lies.

Spe­cial-ed­u­ca­tion teach­ers Marie Heil and her hus­band, Aaron, started a lawn busi­ness, Top Notch Land­scap­ing, to make ends meet.

“To main­tain our life­style and to be able to af­ford things for our own chil­dren, this is what we do to cover that,” Marie Heil said. “We are su­per busy.”

The av­er­age salary of teach­ers who were ques­tioned in the study was $50,019 a year, a fig­ure that was up nearly $2,500 from two years ear­lier. The av­er­age class­room ex­pe­ri­ence of those sur­veyed was 17.7 years.

When the first sur­vey was done in 1980, the av­er­age teacher salary was $14,113. Cal­cu­lated in to­day’s dol­lars, that amount would trans­late to $37,368.

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