A Humble Stipend Increase

A stipend increase is one step in the right direction to create a more equitable alternate certification program.

Every month, I look forward to an email from NYCTC with an unassuming subject line – Important Information Regarding Your Stipend. This email comes around just a bit after the middle of the month, generally signaling to Collaborative Partner Teachers that our monthly stipend checks have been mailed out. It usually takes a few more days for the physical checks to make their way to us, and I know my fellow Partner Teachers and I breathe a collective sigh of relief as we replenish our humble finances. It is said that you don’t go into education for the salary/earning potential, and this sentiment rings particularly true as we make our way through the program.

There was, however, an additional section of the email. The Collaborative program notified Partner Teachers that we would be receiving an additional $1,500 in our stipend, resulting in an extra $500 in our April, May, and June checks. My first reaction to grin and joyfully punch the air. This was promptly followed by a shrug.

Suppose that every Partner Teacher completes 8 hours of work per day related to Field Experience. That’s 40 hours of work per week and 160 hours in an average month. Some quick napkin math shows that the hourly wage (with the increased stipend for the last few months of the program) works out to about $9.37, while New York City’s minimum wage is $15/hour.

Is the stipend increase appreciated? Yes, it most certainly is. At the same time, no worker should have to work a full-time job and wonder if their financial situation is tenable. One of the main reasons I was able to join the Collaborative was because I could live with family while I completed the field experience component. Many of my cohort members are in a similar position. Perhaps a future iteration of the program will bump the stipend up to $2,000 for each part of the program and maybe even include a monthly unlimited MetroCard for Partner Teachers.

I’m still just as excited to be a part of this program as I was when I first interviewed and accepted my spot. I hope that the program continues to change over time and strives to create an equitable experience for Partner Teachers. The future educators of the NYC Department of Education produced by this program deserve no less.

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