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Federal Data Show Teachers More Likely to Juggle Multiple Jobs

In the midst of a continuing recession, beginning K-12 teachers are considerably more likely to be working multiple jobs, according to new data from the National Center for Education Statistics.

The data show that 22 percent of secondary teachers and nearly 24 percent of elementary teachers worked multiple jobs simultaneously as of 2009, compared with only 14.5 percent of those not in teaching. Teachers were also more likely to be enrolled in college or graduate school classes while working, 24.3 percent compared to 21.2 percent of nonteachers. That echoes reports from teachers in Palm Beach County, Fla., and elsewhere that new teachers in particular are having more difficulty living on their teaching salary alone.

As middle school teacher Kris L. Nielsen of Charlotte, N.C., wrote in a recent Teacher blog:

"I'm teetering on the poverty line myself, always running out of money by the third week of the month. ... I have no health coverage for my family, because it would cost over a quarter of my pay. 
My take-home pay is roughly equivalent to that of a full-time customer service manager at Walmart. I make less if you take into account the hours I work."

The data are a just blip in NCES's comprehensive data report on characteristics of beginning K-12 teachers, but they add a complicating factor to districts looking to beef up teacher training or change work hours as part of school improvement programs. The outside lives of staff rarely get a big discussion during school planning, but doing so might lead to fewer plans considered unworkable by teachers.

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