'I Will Be Watching Every Vote'

More than 300,000 educators around the country face layoffs. Unless the U.S. House and Senate act now, their jobs will disappear and millions of children’s lives will be affected. Here’s the story of just one laid off teacher, a single mother of two from Durham, N.C., named Gina Moretto Frutig.

Here’s a timeline from my most recent payday:

April 30: Got paid (we only get paid once a month).
May 1: Car needed new front shocks, new tires, oil change, new belt (don’t ask which one –I don’t know), and annual inspection.
May 3: Wrote checks for rent and day care.
May 5: Grocery shopped, filled up gas tank.
May 9: $27  left in my account. Receive kids’ approval letter for NC Health Choice – yup, Medicaid.
May 11:  $24 in my account. Overdraft protection kicks in $200, so I’ll be paying that back from next month’s check.
May 12: Informed by the principal that I will be one of the teachers receiving a pink slip on Friday.
Coming up on May 31: The next – and last – paycheck for 2010.

So, how is it that I’m so far in the hole so early in the month?

First, I need to explain that I am on the 10-month salary, so I’m actually getting more each check from August through May. Had I elected to take the 12-month option, I would be broke within the first three days.

Second, I do all my banking online, so the money comes out whether I have enough to cover it or not.

Third, let me just point out that I do not have many luxuries at home. I don’t have cable, and I only receive Internet so that my kids can have some time on educational websites, and so I can work at home. However, I will probably cancel that when my rate increases after the 12-month, introductory price ends. We don’t have cable because I don’t even have a working television. I paid off my car last summer and I paid off my last credit card with my tax returns.

The worst part is not having any extra money for my kids. My own two children can’t be in karate, dance, soccer. I’m even reluctant to sign my daughter up for Girl Scouts because I’m not sure I can cover all the costs.

And it doesn’t only affect the fun activities. I hesitate to go to the doctor when I’m sick, because the co-pay and the medication might put me over my budget. When the car needs to be repaired, I do the bare minimum – I finally caved in this time because I have been waiting since January to get that darn belt replaced, and they said something about it being connected to the steering column, so I thought now was a good time to take care of it.

And now I’m getting laid off. I really am confident that the federal and state budget writers, and our other elected officials, will not let us down. I think they’re finally getting the idea that educators are not going to take this sitting down, and we have become a force of social activists, the likes of which they have not seen for quite some time. I think they are realizing that the decisions they make today are truly going to impact the future. I think they are realizing that it is more cost effective to invest in a school than a prison.

But, most of all, I want them to realize that there are real people attached to these jobs. I want them to realize that this is no longer 1950, and the teachers whose jobs are being cut aren’t women working only to supplement their husbands’ income. Some of us are running a home, repaying our furlough hours – we pay child care, mortgages, medical bills, car repairs, home repairs, school loans and fill our gas tanks.

In light of that, I marched on Raleigh in this past weekend’s Fund Schools First rally (organized by the North Carolina Association of Educators.) I will call and email my representatives. I will be forwarding my state association’s daily political briefing email to every voter I know.

I will be watching every vote.

I will do this not because I have nothing better to do, but because I can’t afford to put the responsibility in someone else’s hands.


To read more stories from educators who recently received pink slips, visit our state-by-state story archive at NEA’s EducationVotes.

  • Kim

    I don’t get it. I cannot believe that there is even a question of whether or not this passes. This country “donated” how much money to Haiti, to Indonesia, to help out other parts of the world??? Yet, there is a question as to whether or not monies will be made available for education?!? This is supposed to be the greatest and most powerful country on this planet (That’s what we teach our students.) and yet we have to scrimp for education. That is shameful. There should be no educational system in the world above that in the United States. When there are educational needs they should be met and they should be met prior to our government authorizing tax payer money sent to other countries. Our kids need us now. I can’t even find a job in education. The economy has tanked so badly the teachers who can retire are not financially able to do so. There are not enough openings for new teachers. Education is like a sinking ship and the government needs to see it does not go down. When the students suffer, we all suffer later on. There is so much waste. Our children do not need to be part of the waste of this country. Spend the money where it counts: On our future.

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  • I am so upset that they are cutting funding for education, taking our raises away (and the cost of living keeps going up). I did not get supply money for my class this year. I spent 1,000.00 of my own income on things we needed in our class. I was told there were no money available for us, yet we purchased three flat screen lcd televisions this year. Go figure! We have three assistant, assistant superintendent (yeah that is right, we have three of them). Spending is out of control. We really need to cut back running a/c when we dont need to, turn our lights out when we leave a room, get rid of people on staff we really dont need, and reduce superintendent pay. This would save a ton of money and help in maintaining our schools.

    I am surprised that this family is going without. I look around my classroom and I see children of welfare recipients. They are wearing high dollar clothing and their parents drive expensive cars. They live better then I do, and I work. How does this happen? I think its time to cut back our welfare spending as well. I know lots of welfare recipient that could afford to pay a portion of their medical. So why not pay a co-pay. I bet that would stop them from going to the emergency room, instead of a physicians office. Savings for the government. The governement could also take their 3,000 tax return you would get for your children.I figure if the government is taking care of your children (daycare,medical, food) then the government should take the return to put back into the system you have been borrowing from all year. If you cant afford your kids…THEN DONT HAVE ANYMORE! If they would do this, I bet lots of money would come rolling back in.

    I also walk into my day care and I KNOW that 2 kids are born to illegal mothers. They get free medical, food stamps, government housing, and day care. They mothers dont even work! I get irritated to hear these stories and then to hear of this working mother who is struggling.

    PS…I am sure lots of people will blame Bev Perdue for this, but she suggested giving us raises and the general assembly voted to do otherwise. We need to make changes in our senate, not with Bev Perdue. If most people understood our government, they would know this!