business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

Fox News has an interesting story about how Ed Hennessey, 45, a Florida man who spent 20 years as a high school teacher but never made more than $50,000 a year, and always had trouble supporting his family and paying off his college loans, has found a new career.

He works for delivery service Shipt as a professional grocery shopper. Full-time. And now he makes six figures.

The story notes that Hennessey, like a lot of teachers, always worked a second job, often in retail for companies like Old Navy and Target. Then he moved over to Target-owned Shipt, and discovered “he could make some real money, which made him reflect on his time in the classroom.” So he took a year’s sabbatical, saw how much money he was making, and officially retired.

Today, Fox News says, Hennessey spends his time in his car and scouring the aisles of supermarkets. Every day he picks up groceries and delivers them to families in Seminole County, Florida.

“Hennessey said life is different now. He works when he wants, mostly 50-60 hours per week, and he no longer gets summers off. But instead of grading tests and making lesson plans at home, he’s glued to his phone, his lifeline, which he said he doesn’t even mind.”

I mind.

Not that it is a bad thing that Hennessey has found a way to better support his family. That’s a good thing. I just think it is a shame when talented teachers can no longer afford to follow their passions because our culture so devalues the importance of great teachers. I think it is a shame when teachers have to work a second job in order to pay their bills; keep in mind that these same teachers work late into the night grading papers and preparing lessons, and that many teachers reach into their own pockets to pay for supplies because school district budgets are insufficient.

This is the stuff I mind.

By the way, I’m not writing about myself here. I’m not a teacher. I’m a dilettante. I enjoy being part of the educational system at Portland State University each summer, but I don’t have the kind of commitment that people like Ed Hennessey have.

Some may read the Fox News story and think it is cute. Some may read it, shrug, and move on. But I see it as an Eye-Opener of the worst kind, spotlighting exactly how crappy our society’s priorities often are.
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