A top Fulton teacher gives up debate team coaching to take second job. Is this happening everywhere?

Centennial High School language arts teacher Jordan Kohanim is one of my favorite posters here at Get Schooled. She uses her full name in her comments, which I greatly admire. She is willing to engage with other posters and she always seemed to enjoy her students and coaching her high school’s debate team.  (You might remember the piece on merit pay she co-wrote for the blog.) And while Jordan has never mentioned this,  she was Centennial’s Teacher of the Year for 2009-10.

So, I was sorry to read this note Jordan sent me about her decision to give up coaching the debate team at her high-achieving Roswell high school because she is taking another job to make ends meet.

“I’m sure I’m not the only one,” she says. ” I’m sure there are others. It might be interesting to see who else has had to stop extra-contracted hours to take on a second income.”

Here is her letter to her debate team explaining her decision:

Our team has grown exponentially because of you. I hope you are as proud of yourself as I am proud of you. Over the past three years, our program made great strides due to your hard work: you guys won an award for the fastest growing NFL chapter, were invited to compete in the CFL National tournament in Omaha, and earned numerous trophies and accolades from across the state. On top of that, our program went from six dedicated students to over 50 in a matter of three years.

So it is with heavy heart that I write this letter. Words cannot convey how saddened I am to have to inform you that due to larger classes, less planning time in the daily schedule, and more cuts to instructional planning days, I will no longer be able to coach the Centennial High School Debate Team.

If I were not taking on a second job to supplement the income lost due to budget cuts, I would be more than happy to continue coaching. Sadly, with my decreased income and more academic responsibility, I won’t be able to devote the time needed to coach the team.

I will continue to support you as you learn and grow within our school. I cannot thank you enough for your hard work. I will look back upon my years as a coach as some of the happiest of my life, and perhaps when skies are bluer, I can come back. For now, Dr. Bartley has sent out a staff-wide request for someone to fill the position.

All my best,

Coach K

91 comments Add your comment

Mike Vigilant

May 12th, 2010
2:55 am

It’s heartbreaking and difficult to read that such a dedicated and caring professional like Ms. Kohanim had to give up such a successful activity. Here’s hoping she can return to the debate team soon.

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Jordan Kohanim

May 12th, 2010
4:51 am

Thank you for posting this, Maureen. I know I’m not alone in this. I wonder if people realize just how different next year will look.

Teaching in FL is worse

May 12th, 2010
5:30 am

When I first started teaching 14 years ago, I took seasonal work at Kmart. Once in a while someone would recognize me and act very surprised. They never quite made the connection between low teacher pay and why I was there.

Now, 14 years later I am searching yet again for part time work. I am building up a special savings account, just in case….

Another Debate Coach

May 12th, 2010
5:47 am

Jordan,

I empathize, Jordan- we all know how much time and effort debate takes. Unlike other sports, debate is an intensive, year-round competitive activity that requires coaches to sacrifice consecutive weekends each month as well as multiple days after school for practice. For the most competitive teams, coaches dedicate 80+ hours each week to school and debate-related activities.

I’m also attending less tournaments next year because I’m finding alternative ways to earn money, i.e.– make up for my future furlough days and pay for a wedding.

Let’s hope this gets better.

nopay

May 12th, 2010
5:58 am

It just doesn’t seem appropriate that an educated professional has to work a second job. It sounds like Roswell High School is losing a wonderful resource to their students. Unfortunately this type of situation is quite common.

http://hotjobs.yahoo.com/career-articles-worst_paying_college_degrees-1263

Education is the 7th lowest paying career requiring a college degree. Elementary school educators are the 2nd lowest paid professionals. Teaching is my second career. My first profession, social work, is the lowest paid professional occupation. I’ve always worked with children because I want to help them develop into socially, emotionally, intellectually, and psychologically healthy adults. It’s sad that society doesn’t value children enough to allocate appropriate resources to their well-being.

Mid-South Philosopher

May 12th, 2010
6:44 am

Too bad the “Gold Dome Dunces” don’t have to take on an extra job to “make ends meet.” Oh, wait….my bad….they do have an “extra” job don’t they…at our expense!

Been there done that

May 12th, 2010
6:51 am

I’m sure this is just the tip of the iceberg…there will be more and more stories of this happening all over the state as teachers face pay cuts and furlough days. Ultimately, the students suffer and will not have the well-rounded experiences that universities seek for admittance to their programs. Oh well, with the cost of tuition going up, many students may not seek that avenue anyway!

It's a shame

May 12th, 2010
6:56 am

@ Another Debate Coach, while it is certainly a shame that this is happening, I have to disagree with your comment regarding other sports. My husband coaches two varsity sports and it is indeed a year long commitment, including all summer, during school breaks, every single day before school at 5:30 am and after school often until 9 or 10 pm as well as almost every weekend. I am sure that coaching a debate team is just as demanding and time consuming but that is true with any coaching postition. It is nice to see this problem brought to the forefront. I am sure Ms. Kohanim is probably earning a ridiculously small amount of money for her hard work. We once figured out a ballpark figure of my husband’s hourly rate while coaching and it came in at about $1 per hour.

Maniac

May 12th, 2010
7:15 am

According to some statistics I found, the starting salary or entry-level teacher in Ga is $34,442 with the average $48,000. This is not the worst for a professional however it is pretty bad considering the job they have; the mess they have to to put up with and its importance of teaching the next generation of citizens.

I guess working a second job until your pay increases is the best option; however remember many people never get a change to make the average of 48K. I have several relatives that teach and they enjoy it for their love of the profession and the kids so I commend the teachers that make the world a better place.

A CONSERVATIVE

May 12th, 2010
7:30 am

IT IS CALLED LIFE…MOST PEOPLE TODAY WORK A 2nd job……..THAT IS LIFE IN HARD TIMES..

john konop

May 12th, 2010
7:37 am

We are facing tough times and as I said in the past we should have cut back administrative salaries by 20% as well as lay-off 20% of administrative staff. And if we would have cut back Kathy Cox’s department by 50% and put tight controls on travel and expenses we could have spared many of the cuts on teachers.

With all that said we should make it easier for booster clubs to help subsidize teachers who take on the extra time over and above teaching.

A CONSERVATIVE

May 12th, 2010
7:42 am

IF MONEY $$$$$ is your number #1 goal…DO NOT GO INTO TEACHING…LESSON ONE FOR THE DAY…

A CONSERVATIVE

May 12th, 2010
7:43 am

john konop…….IF——-is for children…..DEAL IN REALITY…

Elliot Garcia

May 12th, 2010
7:45 am

I am looking to hire several teachers. Please contact your local Mathnasium

Mid-South Philosopher

May 12th, 2010
7:49 am

@ Maniac

I agree with your comment at 7:15 A.M. I do find it amusing that I have never found written on the bottom of my electric, water, or telephone bills….”We take love of the teaching profession and of children in lieu of cash”! Neither have I ever found a “discount” on my grocery receipt for “teacher dedication.” And, yes, teachers know this when they enter the “babysitting’ profession…so they don’t have too much to complain about with regard to money. However, if we can’t pay them anything then is it too much to ask that as a “profession” they be respected? No, h*ll no, we’re too enamored with American Idol!

YOU"RE A JOKE

May 12th, 2010
7:49 am

Hey, “A CONSERVATIVE”:

In what sense, exactly, do “MOST PEOPLE TODAY WORK A 2nd job”? “Most” implies more than 50%; can you show me a verifiable statistic, or are you just talking out your a$$ like most self-proclaimed conservatives. I’ll skip right over the fact that current unemployment is at a 35-year high, which diminishes lots of folks’ opportunities to get a first job (much less a second), and suggest that the employment category “additional part-time for financial reasons” doesn’t apply to comparably educated/credentialed professionals in other occupations to anything like the extent that it does for teachers.

You’re idiot, and people like you are killing the state of Georgia.

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BOHICA

May 12th, 2010
7:52 am

as much as I want to slam A Conservative for his all caps comments and somewhat cold and impersonal attitude, they are right honestly. Day 1 in Student teaching: If you are in here to make 60K and have the summers off, please leave-we wont think anything less of you. If you are here to impact kids and do what you can to help them to succeed then your in the right business. Its my first year teaching and it has been great despite the negatives from budget cuts. I am proud to have a job next year, but its because I worked my butt off to help my kids learn.

so over it

May 12th, 2010
7:57 am

BOHICA,
Not to undermine the success you’ve had with your students, but you have a job next year because you are lucky enough to be with a district that is not cutting all first year teachers. If you were in Cobb you would be gone, along with the second year teachers-good student test scores or not.

LSH

May 12th, 2010
7:58 am

As sad as it to say- these budget cuts have to affect the kids as well. It’s the only way parents will rise up and complain loud enough to have the budget increased for next year. Parents don’t complain about furloughs, cuts to retirement or health plans or lack of classroom supplies. They WILL complain (and in north Fulton, LOUDLY) when their kid is on the team that loses the couch, or the art or music program their child loves. Some posters are right- it is the times we live in, but parents are too used to teachers going over and above the call of duty that they don’t realize the real etent these budget cuts have done to us.

Morrus

May 12th, 2010
8:00 am

Curiously, in a supposed anti-incumbent year, most of the departing are not retiring but seeking higher office. We may recycle more than we replace. The bad news is that a frustrating 114 seats still have but one contestant. Two of them aren’t even incumbents, meaning they will affect state policy without being vetted by voters. And I have to think that we’d be better off if many had run instead for the Legislature — and cut down on the number running unopposed. Georgia’s problems are numerous. They aren’t going away. There’s too much stale thinking at the Capitol, on both sides of the aisle. New voices would be welcome.

RJ

May 12th, 2010
8:05 am

In my 14 year teaching career, I almost always had a second job. As a non-core educator, there aren’t as many opportunities for additional income at school, so I seek outside work. Fortunately I have a skill which has allowed me to set my own hours and charge a fee I find reasonable.

@BOHICA, unfortunately I was never told that teaching would be a low paying job. All I knew was that I loved kids and wanted to share my passion. When I got my first few checks I felt like I’d hit the lottery! I had been earnng $6.00 an hour on my part time job. Reality quickly set in after buying my house and talking to friends that were in the corporate world. I learned it was quite low paying. After so many years I have no regrets in choosing this profession, however I question how much longer I can endure what it has become.

Dan

May 12th, 2010
8:05 am

@its a shame, now trust me a very good friend is a football coach and the hours are crazy, they spend more time coaching than most teachers teach, then they teach as well. But $1/hour for 24 hours a day, 365 days a year is $8,760. When you make silly claims you just undermine any legitimate argument you may have. Again good point, bad math (although I would bet my salary the debate coach doesn’t work nearly as much as the football coach…at least not in Ga)

Chris

May 12th, 2010
8:11 am

@BOHICA & A Conservative –

yes we all know that teachers don’t live in it to make money. But when you’re living within your means and have a contract that says you make “x” amount that you’re counting on and THEN the local board/state decides to ignore said contract and 1) eliminate local supplements, national board certification, furlough days, cut length of contract – some teachers have within the course of one school year seen a 15% pay cut. Second jobs are a way of life for teachers right now – I’ve got 3 jobs IN ADDITION to my teaching job. On top of this if it’s known you’re working extra jobs you may be accused of not giving %110 or not being dedicated.

Tired

May 12th, 2010
8:14 am

First thing you knew what teaching entailed before you went into it. Second thing is times are tough now and teachers are not a protected class. Ask all the people that have lost their jobs would they rather have lossed their job or had some furlough days. What do you think their answer will be? I am sure all of the teachers will be complaining about the pension they receive when they retire. Since I work in the private sector I don’t have a pension but I can count on social security. Yeah right!

coachKR

May 12th, 2010
8:15 am

Actually, it comes out to less than a dollar an hour. But we are talking about the coaching supplement, not the yearly salary. I averaged mine to about 75 cents an hour. Not bad huh? But, I love teaching and I love coaching, so, it works for me. Just hope elementary PE does not get cut in my county! Imagine today’s kids with no physical education from a certified PE teacher. Holy bicuits and gravy!

south ga teacher

May 12th, 2010
8:20 am

@LSH- agree! I hope that parents will start to consider that maybe the way to get out of this recession is not to hurt the education of the people who are supposed to grow up and make the world better! Unfortunately in the poorer areas, like where I live, most of the parents are too busy surviving and still have the “I only failed 2 grades so its ok if my kid does too” mentality.
Others-why even respond to “a conservative”? My bet is that person is a liberal. Probably far left, who is pretending to know the way a conservative thinks, and is trying to get people riled up.

high school teacher

May 12th, 2010
8:22 am

Dan, I dont think “it’s a shame” meant that her husband was being paid for every hour of the year. She probably means that if you divide his supplement by the number of hours he puts in as a coach, the supplement comes out to about $1 per hour of work. My husband is also a coach and we have done this as well, only he is not a football coach, so his supplement is much less. We figured his supplement to be about 50 cents per hour that he works. He also has his CDL so that he can drive his own team to matches, saving money by not having to pay a bus driver. Many coaches have taken this step as a means to save money.

John Konop, many schools only have athletic booster clubs, and they would never part with any funding for academic extracurriculars such as debate or literary…

Batgirl

May 12th, 2010
8:30 am

@A CONSERVATIVE, it’s also called a bunch of kids losing a great resource. The debate team is an activity that will benefit them throughout their lives. I am assuming that Ms. Kohanim is a classroom teacher. This takes an incredible amount of physical and emotional energy that one might not understand unless one has done the job him/herself. Having to have a second job will sap even more energy, so students may lose out with a teacher who is not as fresh as she normally is, although I’m willing to bet that Ms. Kohanim will continue to give her students her best.

I took a second job a little over a year ago. It was meant to supplement my teacher’s pay, but instead it just barely makes up for the money I’ve lost from furlough days and pay cuts. Although it’s a pretty interesting job, I’d really like to not have to do it, but I really need the money.

I just found out I’m losing my parapro next year, and while I’ll make it okay, the services I am able to provide will be severely lessened.

V for Vendetta

May 12th, 2010
8:32 am

I’m surprised by people’s insensitive attitudes towards those of us who are trying to make a better life for our families. It is absolutely true that most teachers knew what they were getting into when they signed up; however, why is it perfectly acceptable to consign a teacher to a life of poverty in the first place? It seems as though we have been disrespected for so long that it is now the norm. I’m not saying that one profession is “better” than another, but it is still frustrating to read such ignorance and disrespect.

I do many things to enhance my yearly pay. In addition to coaching, I work during the summer and do some one-on-one coaching and instruction when I can. I’ve also been looking for other ways to make more money. (I’m also starting my EdS this summer.)

Boohoo for me.

let's make it concrete

May 12th, 2010
8:54 am

According to Open.Georgia.Gov, Ms. Kohanim made $42362.42 in 2009. It’s not quite clear how much of it was for coaching. I don’t know how long she has been teaching, but, let’s say 10 years. Is $42K a reasonable salary for someone with 10 years of teaching experience? Is it a living wage for someone with a family? That’s what teachers are getting.

Booklover

May 12th, 2010
8:58 am

Since I’m going to be tutoring at my second job after school and won’t get home until 8 pm, I’m getting a kick out of some of these ignorant replies.

Jordan Kohanim

May 12th, 2010
8:59 am

I’m on my planning period and I thought I’d pop in to make something clear.

I am not out to get rich.

I come from a long line of teachers and knew what I was getting into with teaching. I’m an English teacher and it requires long hours of grading.

My husband and I have medical bills and student loans to pay back. I don’t want to have to quit teaching, so I had to quit teaching. As I told Maureen, I’m just trying to survive. Hopefully, someone out of my colleagues is in a better financial position and can take on the debate coaching position (which- by the way pays an extra $110 a month).

I just wanted to know if anyone else is in this same situation–having to cease extra-contracted activities to get another job.

Jordan Kohanim

May 12th, 2010
9:03 am

“want to have to quit teaching, so I had to quit teaching” should have read “want to have to quit teaching, so I had to quit coaching.” Sorry about that!

SLP

May 12th, 2010
9:04 am

I did get into education to make money. Is that a bad thing? Don’t most adults choose careers with which they can support their families? The bonus here is that I enjoy my students, I like my administration and co-workers, and I am good at my job. I entered the field over 20 years ago armed with my M.Ed., my state licensure, and my national board certification (CCCs). I started out with a decent base salary, good county and position supplements, and good benefits. Now because I work in public education, an area best suited to reduce funding in order to balance the state budget, I have a no longer decent base salary (due to the lack of continuing step raises and to furloughs), no supplements, and reduced benefits. Some will see me as mercurial; others will see me as naïve.

Dan

May 12th, 2010
9:09 am

Still not $1/hour, I don’t know what the supplement is but even 8 hours a day 365 days a year (which no one other than a small bus owner works) is $2900, again I get it I know well what kind of hours coaches (and their wives) deal with, my point is why exaggerate when you don’t have to

Booklover

May 12th, 2010
9:12 am

@Jordan-
After giving myself one year to adjust to a new district, I was planning on helping as an assistant coach, but with the furloughs, I’m now making LESS than I was before, even with step increases, which is true for many people. You are probably in the same boat yourself.

I didn’t go into teaching with the expectation of becoming rich; however, I did go into teaching with the expectation that it was a stable and reliable career that I love doing.

It’s no longer stable and reliable. Last spring, before we were notified of furloughs, I signed a lease for an apartment based on what my salary was SUPPOSED to be for this school year. With furloughs, my salary was slashed $200/month. Away went all of my spending money. I just went to the mall for the first time since Christmas. I rarely eat out. Many other teachers are in the same precarious financial situation. Imagine the hit dual-teacher families have taken!

Not only is it stressful for us, but the local economy is clearly suffering. (Even worse here, because many of the soldiers are deployed right now and not back spending money here, either)

Tired

May 12th, 2010
9:26 am

@Booklover,
So because the your salary was cut $200 a month the local enconomy is suffering? That is what is causing the bad economy is teachers cut in pay? I though it was people losing their jobs. Many people are in the situation you are in! Not just teachers.

You Asked

May 12th, 2010
9:32 am

People busy reminding teachers that everyone is hurting due to the current economy…

Where were you when people were making millions flipping houses and pushing pyramid financial sales schemes? Protesting that the teachers were only making 40k a year? Of course not.

Don’t begrudge teachers for wanting the make their contracted amount.

The rest of those who are in local and state government jobs used to trade the ability to make lots of money for the priveledge of serving and an implied promise of job security if they performed well. (implied of course because Georgia is a right to hire/fire state).

Now with furloughs, salary freezes, increased cost of benefits and the like state employees and teachers make much less than they did a few years ago. Many of them were laid off last year and more layoffs are expected this year. All while demand for their services skyrockets in our slow economy (Police protection, consumer fraud, welfare, child support, environmental protection, public transportation… you name it, they do it for you.)

I fear a great exodus of the best qualified and most dedicated public servants including teachers as soon as the economy starts to heat up a bit. Good luck competing in private industry with these dedicated professionals. Ex-teachers make great managers and employees. House flippers and financial planners are a dime a dozen. Perhaps they can go back to school for the 5-7 years it takes to learn to be a social worker or certified teacher?

Nature Dude

May 12th, 2010
9:35 am

I’ve been a football coach, and a head varsity wrestling coach. I’ve taught 7 years in Georgia and over a decade total. Next year will be the first I will not be coaching. The reason is simple, aside from earning a masters in a non-education field, I am in the process of helping to start two corporations. I can no longer financially survive as a teacher. That coupled with the demands being placed on teachers has led me to the belief that if I am going to kill myself working then I should be compensated for it, and so even though I love my students it is time to move on…before they cut my pay again next year, and the year after, and the year after that. It’s not over and won’t be for at least the next 3-5 years…if we’re lucky.

You Asked

May 12th, 2010
9:45 am

@ Let’s make it concrete…

Now that you have so generously shared someone else’s salary can you share what you have made the last few years with us?

Open records – another benefit of being a public servant.

Mark my words the best and the brightest will not stay once they have some options. Good luck competing with these fine employees in the marketplace. And good luck getting a good teacher for your children.

You Asked

May 12th, 2010
9:46 am

@ Tired

What is 150,000 x $200? If you know the answer thank your teacher, then consider the cumulative impact of furloughs.

Tired of the rat race

May 12th, 2010
9:47 am

It’s challenging when you switch careers, too. I took a pay cut, but knew that I would enjoy my job more. I also believed that that would be the worst pay I’d see. Little did I know that furloughs were possible, that the money I counted on and needed could be taken away on a whim. I’m a new teacher, caught in that 0-2 yr. step (indefinitely it seems), and after furloughs and lost supplements, and increased charges for benefits. I’m looking more like 30,000….that’s not terrible when you’re starting out, but I’m older, I have more bills and would like to one day own a home. How is that possible when your pay is low, and they continue to cut away at it. Now it looks like the following year will be even less than this. Cut the total calendar days, add furloughs, increase insurance, cut the supplement, who knew there were so many ways to take it all away? Pay isn’t supposed to decrease with each successive year, how are you supposed to plan for that?

Wounded Warrior

May 12th, 2010
9:51 am

I would love just to have a first job. The military pays well teachers. It doesn’t pay anymore once a soldier gets hurt during the mission. Soldiers do work 24/7. esecially overseas.

Tired of the rat race

May 12th, 2010
9:54 am

Oh, and then we want to call for an increase in taxes! That strikes an even larger blow at my salary than furloughs…the problem isn’t a lack of money, at least not yet. Seriously, look around you. The problem is where is all the money going? I can pinpoint several problems I see on a local scale, much less at a district or state level. Before anyone takes any more of my hard earned money, can we please scale back with all the fluff? We’re not forced to be competitive, so it seems we don’t look at schools and ask fundamental questions on efficiency, productivity, and effectiveness. We just create another task force and support position to look into it & fix it. Enough, already. Please don’t be so foolish as to assume that the problem is (totally) a lack of money given. After we’ve cut the fat, if we’re still hard-pressed to fund education, then I’ll gladly pay more taxes.

Tired

May 12th, 2010
10:02 am

@ You Asked,
150000×200=30million
In the past year 171,870 have lost their jobs in Georgia. Lets say at an average salary of 25k.
What is 171,870×25000? Which number is larger?

Tired

May 12th, 2010
10:10 am

@ Tired of the rat race,
Totally agree on your point of lack of money given. The GA budget for FY 2011 gives 54.5% of the budget to education. I have heard that a large part of this is executive salaries at the state which IS ridiculous.

@ Dan

May 12th, 2010
10:10 am

Dan,
You still aren’t getting the point. The teaching salary (probably around the 40’s) is a coach’s base pay. The coaching stipend is different. It is an additional amount (around $3000 more or less) that pays just for the coaching part of the job. So what the poster meant was that if you divide the coaching stipend by the hours spent coaching, it does equal roughly a dollar or less per hour. This is a normal situation for coaches. Do you understand now?

You Asked

May 12th, 2010
10:12 am

@ Tired – so your solution to a hurting economy and unemployment is to add more to the rolls or take away even more state revenues?

Your point would make sense if it were an either or proposition but it is not.

By the way Georgia is #46 in terms of per capita tax burden and #49 in terms of per capita debt – so we’re not talking about raising taxes to a stifling level. In fact if we’d just passed the cigarette tax so our taxes were in line with neighboring states we’d make up most of the budget shortfall in education.