School Funding and Teachers’ Cars

By , March 29, 2011

Today, I was astonished to read a blog post in which a parent, angry about her local school’s budget battle, wrote of her desire to smash teachers’ “expensive sedans” in a school parking lot on “back to school night.”

Marsia Mason, please note: if I find your car in a parking lot . . . I might leave a nasty note under your windshield wiper.

“As we were walking into the high school, we passed several expensive sedans with signs that read ‘Respect and Fairness.’ I had left my baseball bat at home, which is a good thing because instead of feeling sympathy for the teachers, I actually wanted to club their Beemers; leave them my own special sign.”  — Marsia Mason, “Bored of Education,”

There’s so much wrong with this, I don’t know where to start.

First, do we even know if the “expensive sedans” in the school parking lot on “back to school night” even belonged to teachers, and not parents?

If they belonged to teachers, were they paid for with the teachers’ salaries (or more likely, paid by another family member’s salary)? Or might some teachers choose “expensive sedans” as more suitable for a second job as a real-estate agent?

My disbelief of this parent’s story arises from an experience I had 20 years ago, when I was a new attorney:

I was asked to speak to a class at Monte Vista High School in Danville, which serves a very affluent community, with an average household income higher than 99% of school districts in California.

I’d never been to the school before, and when I drove into the parking lot, I was astonished to see lots of expensive sedans (BMW, Mercedes, Lexus, etc.). I was driving my brand-new Toyota Corolla, which was clearly the cheapest car in the lot.

I drove around the parking lot several times, but couldn’t find a parking space, so I parked at the curb in front of the office and ran in to ask where I should park.

“Oh, you can’t park in the student parking lot,” said the school secretary. “You need to park in the teacher’s lot. It’s up that dirt path.”

I drove up the dirt road, and soon realized that my new Toyota Corolla was the finest car (by far) in the unpaved teacher’s parking lot.  I saw lots of old, beat-up cars, which the teachers drove many miles from the distant communities where they could afford to live on a teacher’s salary.

As I’ve mentioned in other blog posts here, I’ve had several careers in my lifetime: journalist, attorney, internet marketing consultant, and (very briefly) teacher.  As a teacher, I collected the lowest pay of any career, and worked the hardest, under the worst conditions.  I refused to tolerate the conditions, and quit.

If teachers’ salaries were doubled, they’d still be underpaid for the work we demand from them.


2 Responses to “School Funding and Teachers’ Cars”

  1. Thank you for a great blog and for choosing to do your “dirty deeds” with a piece of paper slid under a windshield wiper instead of with a baseball bat…civility goes a long way these days!

  2. Trend Setting Mom says:

    Love this post. As an employee in education (administrative support staff), I have a few teachers who drive expensive sedans and SUV’s, but not because they make a whole lot of money teaching, they happen to be married to people who make the money to afford the vehicles. This parent shouldn’t jump to conclusions. Like you mentioned, they could have been paid for by another family member. Also, very true that if a teachers’ salary was doubled, they still would be underpaid. The only teachers I know that make a decent living have been teaching 30+ years, and they work 12 hour days and many come on and work on the weekends!

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