Now, it may seem funny (but in truth it can be downright nerve-wracking), but we somehow ended up going to a church that is just chock full of public school teachers. I know, I know, what were we thinking? But anyway, both of the wives in these couples we went out with are elementary school teachers.
Which means that when we go out, I do a lot of mentally crossing out things I'd like to say, and instead just smiling sweetly.
Don't get me wrong, these are very nice couples, very nice ladies, I assume they're very good teachers. But still, makes for some tense moments.
They were discussing the news that some people are pushing for teachers to be held responsible for their students' progress, by requiring that classes' test scores be evaluated and teachers whose students don't show improvement will be held responsible, and, I assume, eventually fired if they don't start doing a better job.
Well, of course these two teachers were just appalled at that thought. One made a semi-valid point that you just can't get through to some kids, they just don't learn. I have to agree, sort of. YOU can't get through to them because you have 20-25 kids in a classroom and have to teach a canned curriculum. Nothing the teachers can do about that, honestly.
However, if the majority of the class is learning, I wouldn't think that the scores of a few who just "don't get it" should matter that much as far as averaging out scores for a whole class. If you have, say, 20 kids who can pass with an A, and 5 who get an F, well, that still averages out to about an 80% pass rate, which is of course 30% above average.
I realize a few kids just won't "get it", but most should, if you're doing your job. Public education is the only occupation in America that you can do a crappy job at and still keep your position.
Anyway, this is kind of going the wrong way from what I intended. Those particular teachers that I was talking with are perfectly good teachers, I'm sure. I like them both.
But the fact that any teacher--especially the good ones--would be OK with other teachers getting away with doing a crappy job while still making the same pay as the good teachers, well, I just don't understand it!
OK, OK, that was so not the point of the post.
The point was, that at another point in the conversation, everyone was talking about starting businesses, and how much money they used to make etc.. One of the guys said that once he was making $13 an hour, and when they got married he told his boss he just had to make more than that. Tony surprised me by saying, "I don't even make that now."
Which is true. He doesn't. He nearly does, but not quite. Everyone else at the table looked at us like that must be a joke or something, the other guy said, "Really?" A short silence followed.
Then the conversation went on. I asked Tony how much he had been making when I stopped working.
"About $7.50 an hour, I think."
Even I was skeptical. "No way," I said.
But then I thought back, and remembered that when we decided I would stay home, I was making more money than Tony was, so, yes, he was only making $7.50 an hour.
Now this wasn't really back in the days when things were all that much cheaper, it was only seven years ago!
At another point in the evening, we were talking (briefly!) about homeschooling and I said that we spend about $2500 a year on our homeschooling stuff. The two teachers just looked at each other in surprise and one informed me that she must spend that just in classroom decor.
I'm not sure if they came away from that conversation with a whole new respect for the homeschooling family, or just thinking we're looney.
But I sat and thought as the others talked. We really did used to live on $7.50 an hour. We had to swallow our pride at times. We used government help for food for about a year and a half. We lived with my father for a couple of years so we could pay off our debt and be able to buy a house of our own.
But we made it. We were humbled by it (at least I was, anyway), but we made it.
Now, we live, the five of us, on Tony's not-quite-thirteen-dollars-an-hour. We own our own house, we pay our own bills, we buy our own food.
Our kids wear lots of hand-me-downs. Nothing in our house could be called "designer" anything. Our car is nearly 10 years old.
Tony told the other couples that, at the time I quit working, "we figured up what we made with Heather working, and then figured in child care, and realized that she could be home with the kids and we'd still have pretty much the same amount of money coming in."
Which is pretty much true.
But what he didn't say to them were the things he's said to me, like how good it is to know that his kids are home and safe all day. Like how happy he is that the kids are learning at home, learning the things we believe and not in school learning anti-Biblical worldviews. Like how we'd rather die than to send our kids back to public schools.
And I just kept thinking, even if we didn't homeschool, I can't imagine our kids having to come home every day to an empty house while mom and dad were both at work. No hugs, no "how was your day", no warm cookies? And daycares? Don't even get me started! I worked in the best child care center in town and I could tell you stories to make your toes curl!
So, the point really is, that I was reminiscing, and thinking and came to the conclusion that...
Oh, God, thank you that we're poor enough to realize how rich we really are.