We all know that the most essential careers to a safe, productive and happy American society are underpaid. Firefighters, police officers, and teachers (to name a few) are chronically underpaid and under appreciated. But when one teacher in Arizona named Elisabeth Milich decided to prove to others just how underpaid teachers are, she shared a picture of her pay stub and it’s causing quite the controversy.

While the country bites their nails during the teacher’s strike in West Virginia, Milich hopes her paystub can inform the discussion and give those hard-working teachers some ammunition in their fight to be paid fairly for the life-changing work they do for our children every day.

In American society, we’re taught never to talk about money. But this tactic has been abused to keep people in the dark about wage equality. It has allowed employers to pay women less than men and to pay people who do the same job different salaries. In America, individuals are expected to fight and negotiate for higher pay. If a company can save money at the expense of the worker, they’ll do it.

Elisabeth Milich’s pay stub is disturbing. She wants to support the West Virginia teachers and show America how teachers don’t make a livable wage.

Milich’s pay stub showed that she received a “gargantuan” $131 raise compared to last year which bumped her salary up from $35,490 to $35,621.

“I actually laughed when I saw the old salary versus the new one,” she wrote. “I need a college degree to make this? I know I don’t make a lot of money, but then when I see it in black and white I’m like ‘wow!’ I mean, I love teaching, absolutely love it, but when you see what the salary is, you cannot live on it.”

Teachers make vastly different salaries depending on which state they live in.

In West Virginia for example, the average teacher makes about $45,000 per year. In South Dakota, the median salary for teachers is only about $42,000. But in blue states like California and New York, teachers make vastly more money like $77,000 and $79,000 respectively.

Anyway, teachers do not make much money compared to other professions. And given the fact that they’re the ones responsible for building the future of our nation, you’d think they’d be given a bit more green year over year.

Millich has been teaching for seven years. And she is currently a second-grade teacher at Whispering Wind Academy, which is located in Phoenix. Arizona is one of the lowest paying states for teachers in public schools in America.

Besides low pay, Millich admits that teachers are also expected to pay for their students’ school supplies. Millich buys markers and tape for her students without getting any reimbursement. Not only does she hardly make enough money to get by, but she is also still paying student loans back 20 years after she graduated college. Her life is a struggle financially. And so are most teachers in America.

“My teacher friends that I work with, they work three and four jobs to make ends meet,” she said. “I know teachers that teach kindergarten all day long, and then they leave, and they go waitress at Applebee’s.”

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