Desperation in Jersey City

Diane, a Jersey City teacher, provides insight into the issues that are pushing educators there toward a possible strike.

IN RESPONSE to "Will Jersey City teachers be next to strike?": Thank you writing this article. I think some people forget there are two sides to every story.

I am a single parent with three children. As a teacher in Jersey City, I contribute $1,300 a month toward my health insurance premium. Each year, the cost increases as my pay check decreases.

I brought a house outside of Jersey City because the average home prices in the city were $500,000. I bought my home based on my salary, but now my salary has been drastically reduced by $1,300 a month--which means I can no longer afford to keep my home.

In the past 10 years, my property taxes and the cost of food and utilities have continued to increase, while my take-home pay has steadily decreased. My car has 180,000 miles and I can't afford to buy another one. It's either pay my mortgage or buy a new car.

We've cut back on food and utilities. My oldest daughter does help--she works part time--and the others are still in high school. According to former Gov. Chris Christie, we have "platinum" health care--yet I received a dentist bill for $600 after the insurance pays their share. Our co-pay went from $1, to $5, to $35.

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I can't find a part-time job because I'm over qualified (three degrees) and the job market is saturated with too many people looking for work and employers who capitalize off others' misfortune.

I remember my parents encouraging me as a child to go to college so you could have a good job with good health insurance, what a joke. The system is broken, not by teachers, but by the politicians. The "American Dream" is a joke.

Harlem
By Langston Hughes

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore--
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over--
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?