Lisa Storaker | Undervalued Educators

Letters to the Editor
Letters to the Editor

I am writing an open letter to our state representatives and our local school board members.

It is difficult to write this letter as I am fuming with the feeling of being completely undervalued by all of the people in the above listed positions.

Our state’s governor has made minimum wage for fast food workers a mandated $20 an hour while not giving our state’s school districts enough money to pay our school district employees a decent wage for our college credits earned, our care given to the next generation of leaders and the education of our children. We should be, at a minimum, valued as much as a fast food worker flipping burgers. Our employees make at the low end $17 an hour with college credits, degrees and experience molding the minds of the next generation.

I am a para educator for the Saugus Union School District and have worked for the past 12 years with the district. I work within the Regional Autism Program with some of the most at-risk kiddos and I love my job. It is difficult, challenging and very rewarding all the same time. I find myself needing to explore other options as we are not being paid at a wage that can sustain the inflation of our cost of living. Just my house insurance alone this past year has gone up from $3,000 a year to $6,483 a year. That one bill takes a quarter of my paycheck, every paycheck. We haven’t even brought in gas, food and utilities.

I have seen people who love and care for our students leave to go work somewhere else because they can be paid more, get injured less and go home at the end of the day with energy to work out at the gym. When our state makes a mandated minimum wage they should have thought about and adjusted the other positions that the state itself funds. The state has created this inequity and failed to place a value on the people and positions that literally mold the future leaders of our nation. Fast food workers are being replaced with artificial intelligence and employers are cutting their staff. A school district cannot run on AI. Our students need humans to teach them how to hold their pencils, how to read and sound out letters, how to count and write the next great novel. My students need people to change diapers, feed them, change their clothes and hold their tempers and breath through tough times along with all the other requirements of their individualized education plans. 

We, as a district, can’t even hire people to replace those leaving because we don’t offer a competitive wage and the state doesn’t give the districts enough money to pay us and our board thinks it’s more important to have a higher-than-recommended percentage in its reserve fund.

Something needs to change. It is not right. One percent is an insult. Just a few short years ago the world couldn’t live without us taking care of our students during the pandemic. Interesting that we were able to find the money then but not now. What’s changed? Our students and the staff that take care of them then and now deserve to be valued by more than just words of gratitude. We must do better.

Lisa Storaker


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