despite their district not having money to pay them.
These teachers plan to keep working without pay as long as they're able to do so:
“We need the students to know that we’re here and we’re not abandoning them,” [elementary school math teacher Sara] Ferguson said. “We need them to know they’ll have some place to go.”
Educators say the fear of being abandoned is running rampant among students, many of whom have learned about the district’s financial hardships through news reports and community chatter. As students walk past the shuttered businesses and abandoned homes that dot many of the streets of Chester, they are reminded daily that people sometimes leave. The city has lost 12 percent of its population since 1990, and kids worry that teachers and support staff will be next to go.
“That’s why we have to keep showing up,” said middle school math teacher Fran Santoleri. “It gives them stability.”
Not giving these students stability? Massive cuts in education funding by the state. Poverty—"More than 70 percent of its students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunches." Crumbling school buildings. And with teachers facing their own economic struggles, it's unclear how long they will be able to keep showing up every day having lost their already below-average paychecks, no matter how dedicated to their students they are. When the state abandons students, there's only so much individuals can do to mitigate the damage.