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News Update

Teachers often work a second job outside of the classroom

Cara Rothrock got her first job working at a 1950s roadside cafe and ice cream stand called Polly’s at the age of 15. First, she wanted pocket money. Then she needed to pay for college to become a teacher. 

Now, 28 years later, Rothrock, 43, still works at Polly’s. She never quit. She never could, EdSurge reported. Devoting her life to teaching has meant she has never been able to afford to give up her side hustle even as she got married, had children and became a veteran educator. 

In a 2021 national survey of 1,200 classroom teachers conducted by the Teacher Salary Project, a nonpartisan organization, 82% of respondents said they either currently or previously had taken on multiple jobs to make ends meet. Of those, 53% said they were currently working multiple jobs, including 17% who held jobs unrelated to teaching.

“It’s really kind of disheartening when you think that many teachers not only have bachelor’s degrees but master’s degrees and still have to hustle for their income,” said Donna M. Davis, an education historian and professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, EdSurge reported. “The system is clearly broken when we have highly qualified professionals needing to supplement their income to survive, who are one catastrophe — one paycheck — away from complete ruin.”

Pandemic-related stressors and the pressure of rising inflation have forced many teachers to re-evaluate the cost-benefit calculations they’d accepted long ago and to reimagine the rest of their careers. Some are plotting to leave the field, hoping to turn their side hustle into a full-time job; others have already left.