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| November 26, 2018 | 0 Comments

US teachers enter the ‘sharing economy’ to make ends meet

Online magazine reports that Airbnb, the online marketplace which lets people rent out their properties or spare rooms to guests, has becoming wildly popular among American teachers. One in 10 American Airbnb hosts is a teacher, says the survey that was released in August 2018 by and entitled “Celebrating our Community of Teacher Hosts”. This means that more than 45 000 teachers are utilising the Airbnb platform. But teachers aren’t getting involved just for fun. Time magazine reports that “Ninety-four per cent of public-school teachers earned less last year, on average, than they did in 1990”. Teacher strikes against constraining budget cuts and for liveable salaries are enduring consequences of the 2008 recession. Walkouts for better pay and working conditions in public schools have flickered like wildfire from Oklahoma to West Virginia, to Arizona and Kentucky this year. Says Anne Aguilar Gardner, dean of maths and science at Resolute Academy in Long Beach, California, “As a teacher with two graduate degrees and five years of experience, I’d be lucky to pull off 55K [per year] in Los Angeles, where social media managers make 70K a year. I also spend at least 1k on purchasing supplies for my own classroom every year.” Teachers also suffer limited benefits. When Robert Goodman, world history teacher at Palm Beach Gardens High School in Palm Beach, Florida, discovered he had cancer and limited sick leave, he was overwhelmed when teachers and administrative staff ‘donated’ their sick leave so that he could continue his chemo treatments. “Educators all over the country were reaching out to me to donate their sick days, even professors over at Florida Atlantic University,” Goodman told Cable News Network (CNN). Given that teachers face what they feel is an uncompassionate and inflexible system, it’s understandable that they would welcome the average $6,500 that Airbnb hosting bought them in 2017. Economists who study teacher salary trends say that data shows that many teachers are in dire financial straits and must also often deal with outdated and crumbling school infrastructure and have thus entered the so-called ‘sharing economy’. In fact, reports the American Bureau of Labour which has recently released data relevant to 2016, one in five American teachers has a second job in order to pay the bills. Teachers are also frequently found driving cabs for Uber after school hours. In short, says Sylvia Allegretto, from the Economic Policy Institute located in Washington D. C., “The pay gap between teachers and other college-educated workers is bigger than ever. This is a crisis.” However, she adds, the fact that recent teacher walk-outs garnered so much support from communities and organisations like Airbnb and Uber means that “People are realising that teaching is one of the most valuable, critical professions in the country”.

Category: Summer 2018

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