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Thursday, September 28, 2023


Economy hits teachers hard

Education graduates are finding in the land of the job-hunting, not all teachers are created equal.’

However, reports say supply is high in science and engineering careers as well as in the field of education.

‘A lot of schools have cut back on art education. In Humble ISD, they have one teacher in charge of two schools, instead of one teacher each,’ UH alumna Rochelle Abante said. ‘Other schools just don’t have the budget for a teacher at all.’

Abante graduated in May hoping to teach elementary school art, but she said she had trouble finding work because schools are slashing funding for art programs.’

USA Today reports the mortgage crisis did much more than immediately affect banks and lenders. Decreases in property values and housing prices reduce the funding available to school districts. The loss of district funds has led to dwindled funding for schools’ programs – the arts were the first to go.

UH graduate Niki Sutton, also an art education major, said she’s all too familiar with Abante’s experience.’

‘Schools are cutting art programs not because they don’t appreciate it, but because it isn’t tested. It’s like having to choose between art and food. You don’t want to see your art go, but you have to eat,’ Sutton said.

Despite setbacks, Abante found a position at a Montessori school in Houston she hopes will lead her into her ideal career.’

‘I knew that I wanted to work in elementary or early childhood. A Montessori environment is more independent so you can do art with the kids. At a daycare, you can’t do that. A Montessori wants to be a school for development. As long as I can help in a child’s development, I’m happy,’ Abante said. ‘It’s fun.’

Raised in Houston, Abante said she wants to experience life in a different part of the country, but with Texas’ economy less affected than other states, she said the move will have to wait until the economy recovers.’

‘I feel kind of restrained because there’s not a lot of money going around,’ Abante said. ‘It’s a little scary moving around and knowing that my cost of living is going to soar while I won’t be making any (extra) money. It’s helpful for me to stay here because I know I can save more money here than I would anywhere else. Plus, I don’t know where I could go that would have better employment opportunities.’

Still, teaching art at a Montessori instead of a public elementary school means settling for a significant difference in pay.’

‘It’s a difference between making $15,000 a year and making $40,000 a year. I’m making less than half the amount of money I could be making if there were more positions available in public or private schools,’ Abante said.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provides $115 billion in education aid, reported Education Week. Abante said she hopes to see positions for art teachers open from the funding, although it has not yet. She said she has been exploring other career options.’

The New York Times reported that entrepreneurship skyrockets during recessions because people want to create their own opportunities and can’t rely on a company to open a position for them.

Abante said owning her own business would provide her greater control over what she gets to do, and has decided to save up for going into a business for herself one day.

‘I want to do what I love and that could include starting an artistic, visual business with painting or photography,’ Abante said. ‘I could freelance. Right now I feel like I have to save up for that, save money for equipment and a website in order to gain clients. I can always go back to teaching, I love doing it, but I would also love to experience owning my own business.’

Sutton is also using the recession to pursue her dream of becoming an artist.

‘I think teaching can be an impediment to becoming an artist, but it’s completely worthwhile,’ Sutton said. ‘I started out teaching art at a Montessori school but now I’m in administration because it allows me a sense of completion.’

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