A Letter to TIME Magazine

Dear TIME,
I was appalled by your cover article by Katie Reilly on teachers’ salaries which arrived in my mailbox today (9.17.18). First of all, let me say that teaching is an incredibly difficult job, that is very demanding—probably too demanding—and is underpaid. I believe teachers should be paid more.
Here’s what I found to be reprehensible about the article—the misrepresentation of teachers’ wages as unlivable. This is not only untrue it is insulting to people like me (and the majority of other Americans) who make less than the salaries you listed and are living a quality life with money to spare. According to census.gov the median household income in 2017 was $60,336. Of the four teachers that the article profiles in the call out boxes, three make significantly more than this figure and one makes less. The one who makes less makes only $5,000/year less, and lives in the lowest cost-of-living area of any of the teachers profiled.
I live within the city limits of Minneapolis, MN (probably a mid-range cost of living, lowish for a large city). I make $XX,000 a year (less than three of the teachers profiled) and I support a family of three on this salary no problem (my wife chooses to stay home with our 9-month-old daughter). In fact, beyond living a happy, quality life that includes luxuries like cash for books, beer, and baby toys, we manage to go on international vacations each year and to save for graduate school tuition and pay down school debt. Many, many American families live on less than these teachers and suffer no major hardships. These teachers do deserve a raise, but apparently more pressingly they need a budget and some personal finance lessons.
This article does its readers a disservice by suggesting that if you make a teacher‘s salary you won’t be able to make ends meet. This is not only a lie, it is a lie that is likely to keep the people who believe it poorer than they need to be. My sister-in-law is a public elementary school teacher in Florida (a state that is on the lower end of teacher pay—<$50,000—according to the chart on p. 30 of the article) and yet she also manages to live a happy, healthy, fulfilled life, largely though budgeting, self-control, and using her brain to make good choices rather than feeling sorry for herself.
This article really feels like it is playing to emotions rather than being honest about facts. Time should be ashamed of publishing it and perpetuating irresponsible thinking.
Alex Kirk

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