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House Republican leader: Teachers get second jobs to buy boats, enjoy finer things in life

Boats cruise on the Colorado River’s Lake Havasu, where part of the local economy is reliant on the tourism and boating industries the river attracts. (Photo by Andrew Fresh via flickr/Creative Commons)

Boats cruise on the Colorado River’s Lake Havasu. (Photo by Andrew Fresh via flickr/Creative Commons)

Teachers in Arizona are getting second jobs not because they’re struggling to survive on their low pay, but because they want to enjoy the finer things in life, like boats, according to House Majority Leader John Allen.

“They’re making it out as if anybody who has a second job is struggling. That’s not why many people take a second job,” Allen said. “They want to increase their lifestyles. They want to improve themselves. They want to pay for a boat. They want a bigger house. They work hard to provide themselves with a better lifestyle. Not everyone who takes a second job does it because they’re borderline poverty.”

Allen, a Scottsdale Republican, made the remark as an explanation for the controversial comments he made during a vote Tuesday on a bill to allow more people without formal teacher training to teach at K-12 schools. The bill, SB1042, passed the House and is awaiting Gov. Doug Ducey’s signature.

During the vote, Allen said the fact that some teachers have to hold a second job to make ends meet doesn’t mean lawmakers don’t care about them. Instead, it shows teachers are enterprising Americans, like many lawmakers, he said.

“Most of us in this room have a second job. Good for them,” he said, adding he likes it when people use their “God-given talents” and try to make themselves better.

“That’s America. The idea that we are somehow torturing somebody if they have a second job is just ridiculous. And (teachers) have a long summer. What a great opportunity for people like us and teachers to go out and get a second job. Let’s all get a second job this summer,” he said.

The Arizona Legislature is a part-time citizen-legislature, and members often have day jobs. Typically, the legislative session ends in April or May, and lawmakers spend the rest of the year back in their districts. On rare occasions, they are called back to the Capitol for a special session.

Allen’s remark drew fire from Democrats and public education advocates, who argued that SB1042, and the Republican lawmakers who supported it, are anti-teacher.

Progress Now Arizona seized on Allen’s “that’s America” remark to fire off a news release slamming the majority leader and the Republican-controlled Legislature for attacking public school teachers.

“It’s the latest show of disrespect from Republican legislators to Arizona teachers. Hardworking teachers already work long days, nights, and weekends educating our children. But Republicans think the American Dream is working multiple jobs to make ends meet,” the organization said, adding Republicans and Ducey have an “appalling track record of disrespecting Arizona educators and destroying our public schools.”

But Allen told our reporter his original comments weren’t meant to imply that teachers should get second jobs, just that if they do, it shows they’re hard workers.

And he said having a second job can be a choice teachers make not because they’re struggling, but to improve their lives and buy things like a boat or a bigger house.

When our reporter noted that teachers, who often start with salaries in the $30,000 range, probably aren’t taking second jobs to buy boats, Allen replied that many people choose to be teachers knowing the pay situation and that they’ll have to take a second job to make ends meet.

Joe Thomas, president of the Arizona Education Association, said he doesn’t know any teachers with boats.

“I know teachers that have refinanced their mortgage. I know teachers who have lost their homes in the last 10 years. I know teachers that are sadly telling their own children not to become teachers. But I don’t know any teachers that own boats,” he said.

Thomas said teachers get second jobs to make ends meet and to pay off their student loans. Many of the finer things in life, such as boats, are often out of reach for them, even those who hold two jobs, he said.

“Rep. Allen’s statements are not only insensitive, they’re insulting. It shows he needs to spend a little more time in public schools talking to teachers,” Thomas said.

SB1042 would allow anyone who has “expertise in a content area or subject matter” to teach in a public school.

More significantly, it exempts the person from having to take a test of professional proficiency, leaving much of the decision on who is qualified to teach up to local school superintendents rather than the Arizona Department of Education.

That provision has upset foes, who argued that simply being knowledgeable in an academic area does not mean an ability to actually teach.

The legislation was meant to address the “teacher shortage crisis” in Arizona by allowing non-teachers who have professional experience to gain a teacher certification without going through the normal pathway.

But Thomas said the bill wouldn’t solve the teacher shortage but rather, exacerbate it.

“It’s just unbelievable that’s the track we’re taking… We’re gonna end up with teachers who are already working second jobs and already spending time planning their lessons. And now those very teachers are going to be the ones who will have to help these pretend teachers learn how to teach,” he said.

Solving the crisis is pretty simple, he said. Just pay teachers more.

“We don’t have competitive compensation,” he continued, adding teachers also don’t feel respected in Arizona. “This is absolutely not difficult. We just have to find the political will to invest in our teachers so they can be successful with their students.”

But Allen said it’s not the Legislature’s fault teachers aren’t being paid commensurate with the salaries of teachers in other states because lawmakers don’t set teacher pay, as that falls to school boards.

When our reporter noted that, while the Legislature doesn’t set teacher pay, it decides the overall education funding from which school boards draw money to pay teachers, Allen countered that legislators have repeatedly tried to get more money into classrooms, but it never seems to make it all the way there.

“We’ve tried trickle down. We’ve done [Propositions] 301, 123 and others. And none of those have made it to teacher pay, or very little of it. So you have to say, ‘School boards, you have to stop doing this,’” he said.

Allen said he supports giving schools more money for teacher pay hikes, and added that the House budget would include money for just that purpose, though he wouldn’t say how much.

Howard Fischer of Capitol Media Services contributed in this report.

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  1. How does someone demonstrate to a school superintendent that they have mastery over a subject, especially in a STEM subject? Hopefully, not by being the lowest bidder for the job.
    I can imagine a conversation in a boardroom of a corporation in another state: What about moving our headquarters to Arizona? The executive team all have families with children and the schools don’t have certified teachers. . . There are other states that maintain educational standards.

  2. This is an affront to professional teachers, we work hard and the legislature has no idea what it takes to be a teacher. I have over the past 26 years invited legislators to spend a week in my classroom, work my hours and do the things I have to do. They have never had the guts to take me up on the offer. Many of my colleagues work two and three jobs just to make ends meet. A two teacher family trying to buy a home today cannot afford to do so given the most basic formula that states your home should be no more than 2 1/2 times your annual income. Mesa pays $38500, so two teacher family would be able to afford a $192500 home at the outside limits. The average home price in Mesa is $209,950-so they could not live in the community they work in-sad. Get real AZ legislature

  3. Ha ha! Oh, this article made me laaaaaugh!
    I do not have a second job. Full-time teaching is my only job. My husband also works full-time for NY State. And we have two kids.
    My savings account balance? 0. We live from paycheck to paycheck. I currently, at the age of 47, still owe $24,000 in student loans.
    We do not vacation every year. Once every 3-4 years we take the kids somewhere special, like Florida.
    True, our kids don’t want for things like new clothes or participation in sports or activities like dance that require a fee.
    Maybe every two-three years I’ll splurge and spend 2-3 hundred dollars on some new outfits for work.
    Where does our money go? Bills. Mortgage, insurances, student loan payment, utilities, etc. Oh, and materials for my classroom — which I pay for myself.
    I guess you could consider my “second” job the hours that I put in outside of the classroom — the 45 To Kill a Mockingbird essays that I’m sitting down to grade and give feedback on this weekend; the 40 reading journals with which I’m doing the same; and the 45 sets of Cornell notes that the kids have handed in. I’d love to keep track of the hours this weekend — and the evenings in the coming week — that I’ll spend on this work. That’s all part and parcel of my salary.
    So I just have to laugh when I read this article. Is he serious?!

  4. What an inane statement! All teachers’ situations are not alike. Blanket statements in general are not to be believed. I know teachers whose 2nd job is to pay the rent, or their car payment, or their school loan payment.

  5. Paula Weiss-Hessler

    Has John Allen tried being an effective teacher and working a second job??

  6. What is this guy’s contact information? He needs to hear from teachers all over the country, many of whom work second jobs because they can’t survive on teacher pay. Not because they want nice boats and houses. What planet does he live on?

  7. I am a teacher in Texas who worked at a second job for nearly 20 years before retiring from that job. Fortunately, I became vested during that time and now receive a monthly pension payment. During that time the local state university hired me as an adjunct instructor so I had three jobs in a 5-year span. Before the 20-year part-time job I had another part-time job for about 17 years plus had a school bus route before and after school for three years during that time. Nowadays it’s nice to actually come home after school and stay home on weekends instead of going to another job. I’ll be starting my 39th year in education in August.

  8. This particular teacher has worked a second job for 7 years now. Not to buy “finer thing” but to be able to afford to buy a 6 year old car, pay ridiculous deductables, oh yeah and to be able to buy food.

  9. The comment about teachers knowing that the pay would be before they went into teaching is untrue. When I started teaching there was a salary scale that showed me what I should be making after 10 years. I knew that if I worked my 2nd job for 7 years, I would be able to live off the projected salary. However, no one said that my salary would be frozen for 5 of those 7 years and the district would do away with the salary scale. I am now making 10,000 a year less than what was promised 18 years ago, I would be making more money and have better benefits if I had stayed with my second job at the airline. I also wouldn’t have student loans to pay back. My child is attending community college because I can’t afford the cost of an university. I will need to take a 2nd job to put her through college not to buy a boat.

  10. So, am I to understand that our House Republican Leader:
    1. Actually thinks that teachers are working second jobs to “buy the finer things”? …and when would they have time to use them?

    2. We already have a second job – it’s called “other duties” in our contract. Yes, we knew that going in. We chose to impact the lives of children. However, we didn’t realize that our salary would be frozen for years at a time, and then we would be told that a few cents was a raise.

    3. Does not understand the constant cry for further education – which costs time and money, only to find that our legislature does not value the training we are required to get?

    4. Above all – do you know any teachers? I don’t know any single teacher who takes three months off for the summer. I have never met one.

    No wonder we can’t find teachers anymore.

  11. If, under the proposed legislation, newly hired teachers need no professional (i.e., how-to-teach) training, does that mean that they’re going to eliminate the REQUIRED “professional development” and continued education training for teachers who have already earned teaching credentials?

  12. There is an attack on education in the US. There is an attack on poor people in the US. Who will the Republicans attack next?

  13. There is an attack on education in the US. There is an attack on poor people in the US. There is an attack on brown people in the US. There is an attack on the elderly in the US. There is an attack on the disabled and sick in the US. There is an attack on women in the US. Who are the Republicans going to attack next?

  14. I sickens me that not only was the guy elected but he holds a leadership role as Majority Leader!!!! We as educators, nationwide need to take an active role in our local, state, and federal elections to make sure these individuals are not elected. Its this kind of rhetoric that these “uneducated” individuals are communicating to the public and the public is listening. Yes it’s an attack on education and our profession.

  15. I just got back from my interview for a summer job. I made the switch from public education to private because of how awful the treatment of teachers in public schools are and how I was constantly being bounced from school to school for no reason other than budget cuts and being the youngest/newest teacher. With the autonomy in private schools though, comes a massive paycut. I have been teaching 4yrs. and worked my butt off in college and did a year long teaching internship which I was completely unpaid for as I actually paid thousands of dollars a year to get my master’s degree all to make a whopping $33,100 a year (before they take out for taxes of course). Just enough to not fall below the poverty, but not enough to actually pay for most basic needs. I have NO health insurance because premiums to cover my husband (who currently makes about the same as I do, though hoping commissions from his new sales position expands our tight budget) and I would take up literally an entire paycheck. We don’t have cable, other than our budget friendly honeymoon-we don’t take vacations or go on dates, and despite the fact that we really want kids soon, we can’t afford to have them since we can’t afford insurance to cover the pregnancy (not that we’d have enough $ once the baby was born to cover its needs). It seems all I do is work, work, work for no reward other than hoping some rude kids that think they rule the world(I fully blame parents for this) maybe turns out to be a decent human being someday, but this guy thinks I’m just getting a second job to pay for the finer things in life. No-maybe I’ll be lucky and have enough money to finish the house repairs that we desperately need.

  16. I will be starting my fourth year as a teacher in the upper midwest. I have a 4 year degree and spent another three years getting a master’s degree. I will be barely making 40,000 a year this coming year. I love my job but we have a baby on the way and paying for our mortgage, health insurance, and now daycare pretty much means the end of saving for anything.

  17. The words of a part time worker who would LIKE the ‘teachers use 2nd jobs to buy boats’ BS to be the norm. He probably knows or has heard of a teacher or two who did use a 2nd job to buy a boat. but he clearly doesn’t know that a high percentage of teachers already work a 2nd and sometimes a 3rd job just to meet all their monthly financial responsibilities, especially young or new teachers, single moms, and one-income teachers who cannot afford to retire from teaching. For the big majority, a 2nd job is more likely to be used for buying a car than a boat!

    It’s well-documented and well-accepted fact that America’s professional teachers, ESPECIALLY in Arizona, are underpaid and overworked.
    Don’t buy this lame attempt to control and spin the narrative. Priorities, people.

  18. Why does anyone in todays world want to be a teacher? Teachers have been under paid for 20 years, it is nothing new. If you didn’t realize that then you are very naive. If you want to be an educator and want to make money then go into corporate education and Training.

    For those of you that are teachers I thank you, you are woefully underpaid and undervalued

  19. Margaret Dolbow

    The most important comment above is short and sweet. A second job most often negatively impacts a teacher’s effectiveness. We now live in NC, and many of the teachers I meet must have second jobs to pay the bills. NC has just about hit rock bottom in teacher compensation. A teacher myself, I know that many, many teachers work 50-60 hours per week if you include what they must do at home to prepare and study how to reach their students’ learning styles. Where is the time for the second job to come from? And there is another consideration. A decent salary indicates a level of respect. Respect for education is sorely lacking. Now we close the circle that includes too many Republican leaders.

  20. WOW, I sure hope my TEXAS legislators do not feel this way. I am a 52 year old teacher who has taught in Texas for 27 years. I currently have 192 students that come into my room every day. Counting the time I am at school teaching & at home planning & grading I spend approximately 55 hours a week on my job. No, I do not have a second job, I DON’T HAVE TIME! I drive a 15 year old Honda that has over 280,000 miles on it. I have not had a vacation in 6 years because I cannot afford one! This man should be ashamed of himself! Where would he be if not for someone like myself who sacrificed for his learning. I am about to go to Walmart & the Dollar Store to buy materials for my students end of the year projects. Why, because it is required & the parents in my community are “poor” and will not do it. Yes, they may drive newer cars than me & have a more update phone but materials for their child’s project are not a priority. That seems to be the mindset of many citizens, teachers seem to be the only ones who put the education of children (OUR COUNTRY’S FUTURE) as a priority.

  21. These are the finer things in life I used my second job to pay for last year: a root canal, not covered by my crappy dental insurance from the Board of Ed, the 2nd mortgage on my home and glasses, as my county does not offer any vision insurance. Living the dream people, with 24 years of experience in special ed and Masters degree, living the dream.

  22. Unbelievable. It’s like they want the masses to be illiterate and ignorant.

  23. Modern cynics and skeptics… see no harm in paying those to whom they entrust the minds of their children a smaller wage than is paid to those to whom they entrust the care of their plumbing.
    ~ John F. Kennedy Quotes

  24. Sounds like this Republican Lawmaker needs a Another job Immediately!!

  25. Charlotte Henry

    After obtaining a master’s in special ed and being unable to obtain a teaching job I took 4 classes and got a k-6 endorsement. I then landed my first full time teaching job at a private school paying a whopping 22,200 a year. hoping to get a job in public school I went back and took 6 classes to get a second masters in prek. I have worked 2 jobs most of my life. My second job is now my only job after obtaining over 220 credits to get a teaching job and having a 150,000 education.

  26. I am not a teacher but I have the utmost respect for the profession. I don’t believe they are treated with the respect they are due. Other than parenting, it is the most important profession in our society.

    I have had to work two jobs most of my adult life. People who work two jobs, don’t have time for boating.

  27. Wahoo Q. Delirious

    It’s a projection. Somebody look into John Allen’s finances.

  28. I understand the plight of teachers. I am lucky that I was in the classes of a few amazing teachers that celebrated my mind. However, you do understand that people like this want to keep the population ignorant, right? Ignorant voters are easily swayed to believe lies and are afraid of change and “others”. Politicians like this one are the norm in the republican party. This is how they plan to stay in charge.

  29. Would you let a someone with knowledge of surgery, rather than a degree, operate on you, or would you rather have a qualified surgeon? SB1042 is insulting and belittling. And, I would guess that the gentleman from ‘Scottsdale’ has little idea what it’s like to make ends meet, so working two or three jobs has little actual meaning to him.

  30. Well I mean, if we’re just making up hypothetical people that *may* exist, then sure, I can buy a financially-secure teacher who chooses to work a second job solely to pay off a boat. I can also buy a teacher who has laservision and a talking cat named Mister Perriwinkle. But then, I write fiction for a living. Maybe when discussing policy, we should discuss real people who actually exist?

  31. I live in Oklahoma where we rank 49th in teacher salaries. The 2016 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year recently announced that he resigned his job to accept a teaching job in Texas with a $20,000 per year salary increase.

    I do not worry about content experts bypassing teacher certification. If they are an expert in their field they would never take the pay cut to become a teacher.

    Good luck with that Arizona.

  32. Giselle Martinez

    I have been teaching in Florida for 26 years. For 18 of those years I had to work a second job (teaching night school, 4 nights a week) to make ends meet. I quit the second job when one night my son who was 7 at the time begged me to stay home and not go back to work. The first year I quit my second job, by the time school was going to start after a summer of not getting paid, I had $0.73 in my checking account. The comment that teachers have second jobs for luxuries is an insult to all the sacrifices I have made to follow my calling of being a teacher.

  33. The entire education system needs to be rebuilt if we want to have an actual resolution. To be fair, there are many gaps and speculations in this story – on both sides. Perhaps the teachers in this story would be willing to show their debt to income ratio to see if they live within their means? If they do then case closed. It is a very simple solution … lets get down to the meat of the story!

    But if this was to happen, I think many would be very surprised to learn how many hours a teacher puts in after school hours so we would need to factor in these hours to truly determine their pay. Not to mention all of their personal money they spend on student supplies as they do not have proper supply budgets. In my experience they are not spending money frivolously, then genuinely need more supplies and so rather than the kids going without, teachers buy it themselves. So far, I have listed three reasons that support why so many teachers have a bad attitude and come across as chronic complainers.

    Moving on to experts being able to teach their skill. You know the saying, “just because you can do it, doesn’t mean you can teach it”. Teachers have to know much more than the subjects they teach. For example, I know I was taught how to be successful in providing a pleasant learning environment, controlling students and different teaching styles for the different learning styles. So chances are pretty high that experienced teachers will be put in positions to shadow and mentor inexperienced ones.

    Most politicians DO have two jobs but I think it is naive to assume all folks take seconds jobs for a finer lifestyle. I personally had a second job when I was a teacher for the very reason he speaks of – I like nice things. My pay (though it was 50% less than those working for public schools as I was in private) did provide enough money to have a decent lifestyle. Im just being honest. But because I like nice things, I made sure I worked harder, complained less and was later promoted to Director.

    Bottom line there has to be a better work/life balance with teachers. Should they be paid more? That is a case by case situation. My boss wouldn’t let me pay my teachers more than $18.00 per hour which made me furious! Meanwhile, the public school teachers were making $40. So you see, there is a LOT more that needs to be broken down here before we just decide everyone gets a raise! The education system needs to be restructured so they may have that work/life balance. There will always be one in the crowd who is a little too entitled but a better structure so teachers can go home and actually have a life could be a huge step in the right direction to setting future teachers up with a better attitude!

    This article is really lacking substance and just sets people up for more argument.

  34. I can’t believe how ignorant the lawmakers are!!

  35. My question is: If you are a “content expert” why the hell would you become a teacher? Why not work in your field for surely more money. Its like plugging a leak with another leak. Just have it make sense to become a teacher. In CA we have to go through 3 years of credentialing, independent board testing, and at least a year of graduate level work (minimum)… WHY would anyone do that for an underpaid job? I really really doubt the answer is to lower the req’s for teachers. Just raise the pay!

  36. Many states have much higher starting salaries. Teachers need to have passed the national teacher’s exams. Many of the states that have higher teacher’s salaries have requirements to achieve that goal.
    I taught on Long Island, N.Y. I had over 90 Graduate Credits beyond my Masters Degree. This was a combination of several Graduate certificates pertinent to my teaching area as well as classroom management, and computer applications for teachers. Also, the school I taught, like most in N.Y. allow teachers to earn tenure. During my time of teaching, I know of several teachers who lost their jobs in spite of having tenure. Tenure means that there must be due process so that a teacher can plead their case in case they are the victim of a witch hunt from parents who simply want their children to have higher grades.
    It is the responsibility of the middle management: Department Chairs, or Vice Principals who over see various departments to help teachers be all that they can be and weed out those who are not motivated or simply lack skills to be there. There are many people shooting off their mouths about teachers who know very little. Every year I spent several hundred dollars to acquire books or software to help me be a more effective teacher. Whether the teacher spends their salary to buy a boat, pay for future courses, is none of anyone’s business. Those comments demonstrate who is the ignorant one in the group.

  37. Wow. It’s bad enough that teachers are regularly portrayed in films and TV to be bumbling idiots who parents and students cut down and disrespect, but now we have a real life legislator who thinks he knows how teachers live and why so many take 2nd or 3rd jobs? Society as a whole does not think that teachers possess a specific body of knowledge nor a talent in engaging their students–the idea that anyone whether qualified or not can do our jobs is what keeps our salaries low. The concept that we get paid for summers that we don’t work, or haven’t already worked during our near constant overwork through the year, also keeps our salaries low. Teaching should not be considered “women’s work” that is already secondary to their spouse’s income.

    After 14 years of a very successful teaching career, there was less than a $1,000 between a first year teacher’s salary and my own. I had previously won a highly competitive national fellowship in which over 350 teams of teachers submitted curriculum integrating science and the humanities and only 40 were chosen throughout the US. I had served as a department chairperson in my school and worked on every piece of curriculum in my field for my county. All of that for only $1,000 more than a kid out of college.

    On a whim, I applied to work as an Instructional Systems Designer in the training department of a prominent government contractor. With only my 6-8 teaching experience, I was hired to an immediate $10K raise.

    The amount of work was nothing compared to the hours of time I put into reading 100+ essays, journals and notebooks weekly. When 5:00 came, my boss locked his office and left. The staff thought it was totally strange that I didn’t quit working if I was in the middle of something, or that I’d happily add 15-30 minutes of overtime that I wouldn’t be compensated for to my days. They couldn’t understand my work ethic any more than I understood theirs. As a teacher, there was never a time when I could sit back and say that I was done. Some kind of project, writing assignment, ditto, quiz, or test that needed grading was always looming over my head.

    I only wish that my quality of life were the same as a legislator’s. I always taught kids who were medically homebound, needed remediation, or needed to repeat a class in summer school. I guess that would give me my 3rd, 4th and 5th jobs during the school year. I left my corporate job in a year to return to teaching. After 27 years of such hard work, my financial situation isn’t solid. No 401K matching funds in teaching. No huge stock options. No fantastic paid benefits when retirement comes.

    Teachers and professional athletes or celebrities should switch places for a while. How amazing would that be. Then we could tell our players to practice harder or our celebrities to make more appearances if they wanted more money. And we teachers would laugh all the way to the bank!

  38. It is obvious this legislator has not a clue what it takes to be en effective teacher. Teaching is a first and second job. Planning does not take place during the work day. It takes place before or after the school day. In most instances it is taking place on weekends. Grading does not take place during the work day because teachers are expected to analyze the student work and reevaluate and adjust the plan that was just completed the weekend before. Teachers are expected to have literature based on the students level and to be teaching at all of those different levels. Teaching is not an 8-4 job. It is weekends and evenings, too. Then teachers try to squeeze in time to do after school activities, and individual student activities. Every good teacher knows a relationship must be built with students for them to become more open eith the teacher. Parent communication takes hours. I have stayed after school for 2 hours calling every chid’s home from just one period. To call every child’s home from every period would take a complete day and a half.

  39. Ha-ha. I bet he is one of those who thinks we get paid all summer and don’t work……No, sir, I got paid for 185 days of teaching, but the district was kind enough to split it over 12 months so my family and I could eat during the summer.

  40. Wtf? I’m a teacher in AZ and with summer pay I can’t even afford an apartment and I work at least 70 hours a week including weekends sometimes and that’s just teaching. I have to take classes at the community college and pay for everything myself to keep my internship (see: not being able to afford apartment). The only waves I’m on are the couches I am currently surfing.

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