Teachers Are Begging for the Bare Minimum, and That’s Not Okay

We’re talking about baseline standards, here.

Photo of a broken pencil to represent how teachers are begging for bare minimum

A few weeks ago, I created a fun meme with cute little graphics for choices. I was proud of it. It generated a ton of engagement. Teachers from across the country chimed in with the pair they chose. Here it is:

Meme that prompted writer to think about teachers' working conditions

By any account, we would call this meme and its response successful. There was just one problem.

I was annoyed.

Even more annoying: I didn’t know why I was annoyed. I wasn’t mad about statistics or any particular comments or responses. It wasn’t the graphics or the font I’d chosen. Why was I so irritated?

When my husband got home that evening, I told him about my confusing reaction. Then I showed him the meme.


“Why am I annoyed?” I asked.

He glanced at it for a few seconds and then said,

“Oh, because almost all of those are standard in every other workplace.”

I looked at the meme again.

Personal assistant. Can you think of another workplace where someone in charge of up to 200 “employees” (students) doesn’t have their own assistant or receptionist? I’m not talking about teaching assistants; I’m talking about someone who can schedule appointments, field emails and respond on your behalf, take phone calls, communicate with parents, order supplies, type up a weekly newsletter, and just make our work lives easier in general.

Unlimited budget. While I don’t think any workplace truly has an unlimited budget, plenty of companies give their employees corporate cards or offer expense reports for anything work-related.

Two planning periods. In other workplaces, I would call this “a reasonable workload.”

A class size cap. See above.

Free delivered lunch. While I wouldn’t say this is standard in most workplaces, I have several friends with education levels similar to mine who have access to corporate cafeterias with discounted or free meals, or once a week “lunch-and-learns” where lunch is provided by the employer. People in supervisor roles at my husband’s work regularly take their team to lunch on Fridays. Also noteworthy are jobs where you can afford to order lunch regularly.

Bring your dog. Even though several teachers reported that they can bring their dogs to work (!), I get that the potential for disasters with ill-trained dogs would be a litigation nightmare for schools. I’ll let this one slide.

What’s maddening to me is most of the choices on the meme I made—a reasonable workload, being compensated for work-related purchases, support roles to make the job manageable—aren’t wild perks only offered by tech giants in Silicon Valley.

We’re talking about baseline standards that teachers are practically salivating for.

It’s giving “let teachers fight for school supplies at a hockey game” vibes, and I don’t like it.

Maybe to further prove my point, I’ll make a new meme where teachers can pick two between:

  • A salary that can actually support a small family without having to pick up two or three side hustles.
  • Benefits that don’t leave you deciding between urgent care or groceries.
  • Bathrooms where the doors are actually on stalls, the toilets work the majority of the time, and you don’t have to bring your own hand soap.
  • Water that is safe to drink.
  • Leave policies that support families instead of punishing them.

We’re not asking for exorbitance here. We’re asking to be treated like professionals.

Teachers, you know what to do.

Keep voting for people who listen to teachers and our needs. And if you don’t have a candidate who listens to teachers, go be that person.

You’ll have my vote.

What standard workplace “perk” do you daydream of? Let us know in the comments!

Looking for more articles like this? Subscribe to our newsletters.

Why Should Teachers Have To Daydream About Things That Are Standard in Other Jobs?