Living Near the Edge of Poverty

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Jennifer is a 3rd grade teacher in the Sunnyside Unified School District. She moved to Arizona from Massachusetts, and like her colleagues, she loves the community and the kids she teaches. But the price of living on the edge of poverty is taking its toll. She’s tired of being scared of what will happen if she goes to the hospital because she has a $3,000 insurance deductible. She’s embarrassed that her 70-year-old parents still tuck $20 bills in her purse when she goes home to visit because they know she’s struggling. But she can’t leave her kids, especially the ones who have so much potential but are living through traumatic circumstances. Those kids need the supplies and food and books that she and her colleagues provide. She wishes the people who believe teacher salaries are high enough would understand that if teachers can’t survive, these kids can’t, either. Jennifer is outraged by the disparities she sees between Massachusetts and Arizona. She knows that Arizona’s kids are just as good and deserve just as much, but the way our state treats them is, as she says, untenable, unethical, and a constant source of sadness.

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