This teacher’s viral video about her second job sparked an important conversation about how we value (and pay) educators

In 2023, the average public school teacher’s salary in the U.S. is $56,026—but in many states, the average is closer to $45,000 a year for positions that often require a master’s degree. In a time of double-digit inflation and steeply rising costs for housing and other living expenses, it should come as no surprise that many teachers—especially those with families—struggle to make ends meet. Declining pay for teachers in this country is a crisis, and a viral TikTok video has sparked an important conversation about it.

In the video, teacher Alexis Longcrier explains that she wants to keep teaching but that her low salary requires her to work a second job delivering pizzas just to keep the bills paid for her family of four.

“I’m a full-time teacher,” she explains, sitting in her car in her Domino’s Pizza uniform. “And here it is 8 o’clock at night, and I’m delivering pizzas. I’m doing this because I can’t survive on my teacher paycheck. Everyone’s talking about all the reasons teachers want to leave. But what about all the teachers that want to stay, but literally can’t afford to?”

In the comments, tons of other teachers have shared their own experiences with second jobs when their teaching paychecks weren’t enough to make ends meet.

“Teacher w a masters and i have a 2nd job to pay the bills… it shouldn’t have to be this hard,” one wrote. Another added, “Teacher here. I also work as customer support for a travel company.”

The other comments are just as disheartening.

“I’m a teacher with a masters and I sell my plasma to get by.”

“I have a masters and work extra duties. Work a part-time job, sell my plasma. We need a livable wage.”

“I love it, but I’m doing Lyft after work and spreading myself super thin.”

“I work at Target part time for the same reason.”

If your reaction to all those comments is a very deep sigh, you’re not alone. It’s mind-boggling that as one of the richest countries in the world (and one that claims to value education for our kids so highly), we can’t manage to pay teachers enough to live comfortably. Longcrier’s video is important, but the real story is how common this is for educators—and how desperately we need to fix this system.

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