news - black shirts for teachers May 2015
Teachers Wear Black to Protest No Raises for the Last Seven Years

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by Jon Shorrow

If you were walking around wondering why all the teachers were wearing black then you are not alone. Many teachers in Walkersville and all around the county are wearing black in protest to no salary raises and increase in class size.

“There are a lot of factors that go into finances for the county. There is how much money the state gives and how much money the local government gives,” math teacher Chris Booth said. “With a new governor, the local is stepping up more but the state is not.”

As we all know teaching isn’t the most profitable profession. If you have been working as a teacher for 4-7 years in Frederick county you’re only making $45,004.(Source: Fcps.org). This is nothing when you factor in that Maryland is number ten when it comes to most expensive state to live in. (Source: CNBC.com)

“Teachers are trying to make a statement that we do a lot of work for not that much payoff. The reason for the black shirts — we’re tired of being told how much they value education but then they aren’t willing to put any money towards it” said science teacher Nusret Hisim. “They put money towards things that don’t directly affect students in our classroom but instead they increase our class sizes.”

In Hisim’s first period class, honors chemistry, there are about 32 students in there. There are kids packed to the brim sitting at lab benches because there aren’t enough seats in the crowded classroom. This is also evident in many other classes and this takes away from one on one learning. This negatively impacts kids because they can’t get the help they want or need to try to advance them further.

“It’s a frustrating thing because what are teachers supposed to do to get a raise? In other industries if you work hard and do a good job, they will give you a raise. But for teachers does it matter if I work hard? Maybe I shouldn’t work hard at all” English teacher John Van Bloem said. “I’m an older guy and I’ve been teaching for a while so I don’t get a terrible salary but if you think about the teachers who started five years ago are basically making the same amount of money as they made when they they started and this is one of the lowest paid starting counties in Maryland. They are in danger of losing tons of teachers between 5-10 years because they aren’t getting paid.”

This couldn’t be closer to the truth. Most teachers go above and beyond for what their contacts call for. They come in early so that students can get extra help. They also stay after for as much as two hours to have students do makeup tests, study for tests, or just teaching hard to learn concepts to students that need help because they couldn’t get the extra help in class. Kimberley Gilbert, a calculus teacher, stays after for two months to help her students prepare for AP testing. She makes sure you understand anything that could possibly come up and spends countless hours of not getting paid to make sure you get a 5.

“They announced that we weren’t going to get a raise during teacher appreciation week. That is probably the nicest thing they could have done,” added Chris Booth

So the next time you see a teacher, be aware that they aren’t here for the money. They are here to help and support you so that you can try and live your dreams to your fullest potential, so take time to appreciate them.