If Ann Landers were a bunch of cool bloggers

I think I have mentioned a few times in the past month that I might have a new job. I have been intentionally vague about the nature of the job to avoid bringing on the Bad Luck Juju, and I have not updated you at every turn, also to avoid the Juju, but now I need some advice. I am still going to be vague about the job itself (seriously people, BAD Juju), but here, in a nutshell, is my dilemma.

In the state of NC, and probably most other states, teachers are paid on years of experience. There are no merit raises, and there aren’t really any opportunities for advancement, unless you earn a master’s degree or PhD and become an administrator. Advanced degrees do in fact lead to a raise in pay–as long as you are working in the area that matches the degree, or you are a principal. After 10 years teachers receive a longevity bonus–1% of their current salary–and there is a monetary reward system built into the state’s testing accountability program.

I have worked in the NC public school system for 12 years. For 11 of those years I taught high school English, and then I spent one year in the library/media center as a school media specialist. During that year I completed my master’s degree in library and information services with a master’s level licensure certification. Shortly thereafter my position was cut, and I was moved into a new position. No one, not even the director of staffing for my school system, could guarantee me I would receive master’s pay in my new position; my administration told me not to worry about it, that the position was temporary anyway, and after the upcoming school year I would probably get to move back into the library (it’s a long story, which I’ve probably already blogged, but I am too lazy to find the link).

Then, on the last student day of the 2007-08 school year (like, a month ago), after a meeting that left me wondering about my principal’s loyalty and sincerity (also a long story, but I’m not telling it, sorry), I got a call from an old friend who works at Possible New Job Organization (PNJO). She started the conversation with, “I don’t know if you’re interested in changing jobs, but….” She went on to tell me about an opportunity she thought I might want to look into–if I was at all interested. I was. I looked. The Hirer told me about the position, and we talked at length. We met a second time and talked some more. We are meeting again today.

I will tell you that the person doing the hiring for PNJO is also someone I know. I will also tell you I am the only candidate, and that PNJO is not advertising for the position. In other words, the job is mine if I want it.

And then yesterday my friend who called originally to tell me about the job called again. She wanted to be sure I was covering all my bases and presented some Really Big Things for me to consider, along with some facts about the department I’d be working in at PNJO. I should note that my friend is extraordinarily IN THE KNOW at PNJO, and I think she would flat out tell me if she thought I shouldn’t take the job. She was just being, in her words, “conservative.” Here’s the lowdown:

  • The Hirer at PNJO is in her current position as an interim; the former Deparment Boss retired, and she is Acting Boss for the next year until a New Boss is found.
  • The Hirer/Acting Boss was offered an Assistant Boss, but she declined.
  • New Boss will probably be offered an Assistant Boss as well.
  • If New Boss takes an Assistant Boss, the position being offered to me would most likely be absorbed into Assistant Boss’s duties.
  • This department has NEVER had an Assistant Boss.

And also:

  • In order to make the salary PNJO is offering me, I would have to remain in the public school system for 14 more years (and that is on the master’s pay scale).
  • I have not been a particulary happy public school employee for AT LEAST the past three years.
  • PNJO is a great place, and I know I would enjoy working there, doing something new and different but still maintaining a connection to the education world (that’s the biggest hint you’ll get).

BUT!

  • I have tenure in the public schools, which pretty much guarantees my job security.

Here’s what I’d like from you: put yourselves in my shoes and consider what you’ve just read. Think specifically about the unknowns in effect at PNJO. Are they scary enough to make you think it would be better to stay in a crappy but secure position? Or is a leap of faith in order here? What’s your gut reaction to all of this? I could REALLY use your brilliant insight.


12 thoughts on “If Ann Landers were a bunch of cool bloggers

  1. Oh! Wow! What a hard decision.
    Here is my 2 cents is: take the PNJO job. But yeah.. it is easier for me to say that.. than you to make the decision. Good Luck with your choice.. and keep us updated with your job choice.

  2. Well, my motives are selfish. After the loss of Bird, Lyons, Heck, Pammy, and heaven only knows who else, I say its time for the hemorrhaging to stop. So, personally, I would love it if you would not leave your current position…but ultimately, you have to do what is best for you, which I really have no advice about. How is that for helpful? =)

  3. I say, as someone who just leaped and am loving it, that you should take the leap. Especially since it pays more money. Put that money away as a nest egg just in case.

    I mean, you never know… what if in a year the new boss gets offered an assistant boss and accepts the offer and then makes you the assistant boss? You really don’t know what’s going to happen. And you can always get a job again as a School Media Specialist somewhere (at least that’s what I’m telling myself as I go for the qualifications to become one) later — and if you’ve got a good nest egg from the pay raise you get from this job, the transition will be easier.

    This is cosmic. Take what the goddess is giving you.

  4. OK it doesn’t sound very clear what the new job is offering but remember people DO let us down…at least with children you know what you are getting and if you are a teacher then you are most likely meant to teach. Think back to why you became a teacher in the first place I know it is hard but try not to think about the money.

  5. It’s more than just the money. It’s the chance to do something new, the chance to take a chance, the fact that this opportunity found YOU, on a day when opportunities where you are already at seemed to shut down.

    Do you think you’d be happy, fulfilled, and satisfied at the new job? Then go for it and don’t let fear of the unknown hold you back.

  6. I agree with Chicory… you can always go back to the public school system… and at the same pay level that you are leaving…if after a year those “maybe” things happen, going back would be your worst-case senario… I don’t think it’s a bad worst-case, do you? And… you never know… this may just be a stepping stone to some other even better position that is waiting out there for you… as someone who has helped her husband make some pretty big and scarey leap of faith career moves over the last five years, I say go for it… the public school system will ALWAYS be there!

  7. De-lurking to say: go for it. You’ve been unhappy in your current position for awhile and it’s not everyday that something like this lands in your lap. There will be “unknowns” no matter where you go.

  8. Take the leap. I did 9 years ago and although I’ve changed positions a time or two, I’m still in the same field and lovin’ it. Good luck and I have my guesses:)

  9. As someone who is also taking a leap employment-wise (although still in the public school system), I would agree with all the others who are suggesting that you go where you think you will be the happiest or most content. However, with any new job outside the state of NC, you risk losing some pretty good benefits in exchange for greater/more competitive pay. Will you have to pay for your own health insurance? dental? vision? what is the retirement program like? do you already have a 403b or 401k? If you take the new job, be conservative. Live for the first 3-6 months on the pay from your old job. Put the difference into savings and DON’T touch it.

  10. You sound pretty inclined to go, so I say take it. The future is kind of bleak in the School Library Media world (sorry Trista), IMO, so if you have a good chance to go somewhere else, go. I imagine I will be looking for my own PNJO at some point in the next 5+ years if things go the way they’re looking in my county.

    However, will you be killing your tenure if you leave now? I think in my system, if you leave after a certain date (sometime in July) you are breaking contract and that makes it hard for you to get rehired. You can usually get a job in a different county, though. That’s not a deal-breaker but something I would think about in the decision process.

    Good luck, and go with your heart.

  11. I’m late to the party here, but I think that I’d go for it. I’m 9 years into the public school gig, and while I like it, and intend to probably stay until I retire, I would probably do something else if it fell in my lap and the pay was better. I think previous posters gave you some good technical things to consider. For me, the toughest thing to give up would be the blissful summers. But the financial climate in schools is not good and is not likely to get better anytime soon.

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