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05 October 2005


Ok. I'm pissed off and I have to rant. If you don't want to read a rant about money, scroll down to the previous post.


I was finally paid today. The community college where I teach in Maine has the funkiest payroll system ever! We are paid only 3 or 4 times a semester, not twice a week like most normal places. This semester we are paid 4 times. Last spring we were only paid 3 times. Today was the first pay day. No kidding.
It's October 5.

School started at the end of August. I guess they figure we all own our own homes and don't have to make rent payments on the 1st of the month like other people. Or maybe they think we have bank accounts with loads of savings. What a joke.

So I teach 3 classes per semester, and for each class, I'm paid a total of $1830, which when divided into 4 pay periods comes down to $457.50. For 3 classes, that's $1371 per pay period. So today, I figured with taxes being as high as they are in Maine, I'd probably only get $1100, but I was off by $100 - not in my favor. This is insane. My check was for $1000. It was direct deposited, so I haven't been mailed the stub yet, but I'm guessing this is mostly state, not federal tax. My rent is $890, so if this were my only job (and mind you, I spend 40 hours a week on 3 classes), I'd have $110 to last me through November 2, the next pay period, for heat, electricity, Internet, and silly stuff like food and gas, and oh yeah, student loan payments.

Someone wise once told me that I should save 10% of every paycheck. Just pay my bank account 10% and forget about it. I actually used to do this back in Alaska, and that's how I had savings when I moved here. Go figure.

What is up with this? I'm teaching people how to write. Is this really valued so little by the state of Maine? I made more money at that horrible call center job selling pills to middle-aged men. I was depressed all the time. I felt guilty because I was ripping people off. But I made more money - I'm not the greatest salesperson, so I wasn't rolling in it, but I had more than $110 a month left after rent. Should I quit teaching in the spring and go back there for $1400 take home per month? Which is the greater good?

I have on average 25 students per class in Maine for a total of 75 students. The cost for my English course is $222 per student. That means that on average, the school gets $5550 for each course I teach. That's $16,650 per semester. Now that would be an ok salary, right? I still wouldn't be rich, but I could make loan payments on a regular basis, and I could visit friends and family whenever I want (my good friend Kristin in California has been asking me to visit her there since she left Alaska in 2002). Someone's making money off these classes, but I assure you, it's not the teachers. And they aren't spending it on equipment, either. I carry my own dry erase markers for the blackboards as the classrooms never have any, and the photocopy machines are always broken.

Alaska, THANK GOD, pays much better than Maine ($3000 per course), and I have 2 classes with them this semester -- yes, I make more teaching 2 classes online for UAF than I do teaching 3 in Maine - that's crazy, isn't it? Also, UAF pays me every two weeks like a normal company, and because AK doesn't have state tax, I get more money in my pay check. I asked for 3 classes for the spring, but they only gave me two. And I know I'm lucky to have them being out of state and all. They're doing me a big favor as they have no shortage of folks to teach these courses, but I worked there for a while, and I've established relationships, and those good people look after me.

This is why people are on welfare, you know. People want to have quality of life. They don't walk to work 3 or 4 jobs to get ahead. I work 2 jobs and I'm falling behind every day. I don't know how I will catch up. I have to spend about 15 hours per week on each class. I don't want to get a 3rd job b/c my quality of life will be diminished.

Do you want to know what the hourly breakdown is? Do you? Ok, let's figure out, and then we can leave the computer and vomit.

For the Maine courses, the semester runs August 29-December 17. That's 16 weeks. I spend about 15 hours a week per class, so that's about 45 hours a week, but we'll round down to 40 hours a week. 40 hr X 16wks = 640 hours

My contract is for $5490 for all 3 classes. $5490/ 640 = $8.57 an hour.

Are you gagging yet? I have a Master's degree. I make under $9/hr to teach college English. PRE-TAX. Now, we all know I'm not really taking home $8.57 an hour. I'm not even taking home $8. After taxes ($4000/640), I'm bringing in $6.25 an hour. And remember, I really work 45 hrs per week, not 40.

And you can bet that if I treated my job like any other $8.57/hr job, I wouldn't hold it for very long. There are plenty of people who want these jobs. Minimum wage in Maine was just raised from $6.30 to $6.50 the 1st of this month. So I should be thrilled, right? Of course, Movie Gallery across the street is hiring. They pay $9 to rent videos. I wouldn't have to drive and use gas (the president would be so proud of me), I'd take home more money, and I'm sure the job would be much less stressful than grading student papers. There's be no at home preparation; when I'd go home for the day, I'm done. With teaching, what I need to do is always on my mind, and I'm constantly thinking of new ways to make a lecture more effective.
Of course, something in the back of my head tells me that I should remain where I am, that even though I make less, I'm of a higher class somehow. Can someone tell me how that works? Or why it matters?


Ugh. Now for UAF, I only teach 2 classes - that's 30 hours per week, and because they are online classes and therefore very much more time consuming, I'm not rounding down. I get $3000 per class, so $6000. The semester runs from September 1 to December 12. That's not quite 15 weeks, but we'll round up.

30 hr X 15 wks = 450

$6000/450 = $13.33 (not great, but much better than Maine!)

After tax:

I get $549 per check, 9xs per semester.

$549 X 9 checks = $4941

$4941/450 = $10.98. Yes, this stinks, but it's more than the pre-tax pay rate for adjuncts in Maine.

The verdict is in. I hope you all understand why I'd be quite pleased to move back to Alaska.

And God Bless VISA.


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