By Stan Bush
LITTLETON, Colo. (CBS4) – Could you work 70 hours a week on only five hours of sleep a night? How much would you need to make that lifestyle worth it?
Many teachers in Colorado are facing those questions. After the final bell, those teachers go to second jobs just to keep a roof over their heads.
“We have to be able to do what we do and not worry about making ends meet at the same time,” said Krista Degerness, a special education language teacher at Ken Caryl Middle School in Littleton. “Teachers do what they do because they care.”
Degerness wakes up at 5:30 a.m., often at work by 6:30 a.m. and teaches until 3 p.m. After class, she goes to a second job as a dental assistant.
“Some days it’s clear because the phones are ringing off the hook, I’m going to be here until 9 o’clock,” she said.
Once she’s home, Degerness doesn’t finish grading papers and preparing for the next school day until after midnight.
She began teaching more than a year ago and makes about $42,000 a year. The national average for teachers is $57,000.
Colorado ranks near the bottom for teacher compensation. Nationally teacher pay is increasingly seen as having become a crisis.
Degerness says if pay doesn’t change she may not be able to teach much longer.
“I have a strong work ethic and a strong faith,” said Degerness. “I know the work is important, and it’s why I do it.”
Stan Bush is a general assignment reporter at CBS4. His stories can be seen on CBS4 News at 10. Read his bio and follow him on Twitter @StanBushTV.