Allison Driessen is fed up. She’s used to hearing how lucky she is to have her summers off, granting her a supposedly relaxing break from working life.
Driessen, a science teacher who just finished her eighth year on the job, had the opposite experience. This summer marks her first summer “off” as a teacher. Before, she studied for her master's degree, taught summer school and even interned at a landscaping company.
“People think we are paid competitively, given that we have two to three months off,” said Driessen, who teaches in Rosemount, Minnesota. “I do not have two to three months off.”
Driessen’s story isn’t unique. Across the country, teachers often trade their summer vacation for other work opportunities to make ends meet. Recent data from the National Survey of Teachers and Principals showed nearly one in five teachers hold a second job during the school year – and teachers say they need to work during the summer, too.
In early June, a USA TODAY analysis detailed the struggle many American teachers face to afford housing. In response to that story, we heard from readers who didn’t take much issue with the findings. Teachers work only nine or 10 months a year, their argument went, which justifies the level of pay.
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So we talked with educators nationwide about what teachers are up to over their summer months – and how you’ll often find them working a second job rather than lounging at the beach.