As we near the end of Mother’s Day 2021 I wanted to take a moment to recognize all that my fellow moms have had to endure the past 365 days. Because let’s be honest, there has probably never been a year for moms like this past year.
Whether it be the stay-at-home mom or the working mom, COVID and remote learning has been an equalizer in terms of our struggles to keep our children healthy, happy, and continuing to grow. But one unfortunate outcome is the ever-widening equity gap for working mothers, compared to their male peers.
The New York Times takes a critical look “at how the lack of normal schooling is hurting mothers” in a recent article that highlights why it is safe for schools to open “normally” in the fall and why if we don’t the equity impacts on working mothers may be irreversible.
And what working mother is more impacted by this than teachers themselves. I know for myself that trying to stay focused throughout my day but still keeping my kids on task and motivated was draining – if not impossible some days. I was fortunate to hire help last spring and through the summer, but tried to go it alone this fall. When it proved to be too much I was able to put them in an enrichment center where they could be supervised, supported, and most importantly socialize with other kids!
But my ability to do this came at a cost, one that I was fortunate to be able to absorb. But when you look at the current pay gap of our WCASD teachers (some of the lowest paid compared to nearby districts) and our administrators (some of the highest paid) I know that most of our teachers with elementary or secondary age children did not have that choice. A “liveable” salary in Chester County is in excess of $80,000 a year, yet our WCASD teachers are not making close to that and most are carrying additional student debt due to the advanced degrees that most of them possess. Because our teachers are excellent, and they deserve compensation that reflects their skill and their value to our community.
I know…some of you are wondering, how do we pay teachers more and get our ever-rising operational costs under control? I will be honest, until I am on the board and am privy to the details we are not provided as public citizens I will not pretend that I have a silver bullet solution. What I can promise is that when we look at our annual finances, and future investments, I will be assessing them with a critical eye and asking myself and my fellow board members – is this worth more than our teachers? Is this investment worth more than retaining our top talent? Because every time the answer is no then we have an obligation to put our teachers – and therefore our children – first by making fair compensation for our teachers a top priority.
My one final thought to close out this Mother’s Day is to thank my own Mother for all that she sacrificed to give me the life I have today. For the example she set, for the support she gave, and for the encouragement I continue to get even after she lost her 5 year battle with metastatic breast cancer this past January. Her experience with cancer – first when I was 19, second when I was 28, and the third time when I was 38 – taught me to make the most of the time we have here on earth. She is one of my inspirations to become a School Director…because we only get one shot to do things right for our children.
I hope you all had a wonderful Mother’s Day ❤