Friday, May 26, 2006

Latest Pow-Wow

I had a pow-wow tonight with another family that is traveling to Wisconsin. Generally, when migrants travel, we like to travel with people we know or at least with another group of people. The reasoning is that we can count on each other in case something goes wrong. If you travel on your own, you're on your own if something happens to your vehicle. Let's face it, most migrants don't have the latest model of any brand of car. So, there is safety in numbers, even if it's two different families. In any case, they have shared with my family the opportunity to work together.

I'll make some phone calls on Friday morning to get more details. The reason why this is significant is that we may be able to have our moving expenses paid. If the lead pans out, we'll get $900 per person. This gave my wife reason to reconsider staying here in the RGV to take classes. She is considering the possibility of going with me to Wisconsin to work. This means that she would get $900 and I would get $900. On top of that, we would be paid for our work. In addition, there is an end of season bonus of roughly $500 and relocation stipend of another $900. Why the generosity? Well, the location happens to be in the middle of nowhere. However, there are migrants there who need to be serviced. Even amongst the social workers, it is preferable to work in the Waushara County area of Wisconsin because there is an established community of immigrants and migrants. When a new location crops up, there is no Hispanic community. At the risk of sounding like a militant Hispanic racist, we would be in an area surrounded by a bunch of white people.

I'll find out the specifics when I make some phone calls today. If it pans out, we have some cash and leisure time. As a Head Start teacher, my wife earns money through the summer. Any work she does is the frosting on the cake. This means, double pay. I am almost certain that she would be hired with her qualifications. I have reasonable certainty to be hired. Even if I'm not, I can still work at one of the plants in the area and earn even more money. The difference for me is to either earn easy money or bust it a little and earn more money. As a family, we can't lose. My wife's participation is not certain yet. She has to clear some things first. Even if she is not able to go, she would be working towards another goal that would result in an $11K raise thanks to the Texas Legislature's $2K raise for teachers. To sum it up, we are in the crap right now, but things for this summer are looking really good.

In my wife's case, she has a Bachelor's degree in History. She later went back to STC for an Associates degree in Early Childhood Education. Now, she's working to get certified as a teacher. I've been helping her achieve her goals. She still has some ways to go, so I am not free to pursue my goals 100%. Here's the rub. She only needs one class to open a daycare center. We haven't done that because we want to save up enough money to pay for startup costs. For now, if she becomes a public school teacher, it means a $9K raise. With the help of the Texas Legislature, she will have a $2K raise. Teachers make roughly $2K take home pay after taxes and other deductions. Yes, we know that Texas teachers are paid well below the national average. However, keep this in mind. Teachers make about $32K to start. The poverty line is $20K. The most I have earned is $16K. In my wife's job, she will earn $26K this year. Her take home pay after taxes and deductions is $1K. So, we are used to being broke-assed Mexicans. Any gain will go a long way.

Rod Santa Ana, III has it right in his latest article. A college education does make a big difference. He's wrong in only a geographical sense. A college degree makes a big difference only in the Rio Grande Valley. I don't have an explanation for this, believe it or not. I do know that my lack of a college degree has severely limited my options. Even with a Bachelor's degree, my wife had a tough time finding a job. She had to start at Head Start as a bus aid; which is a part-time, minimum wage job. She had to talk her interviewers into giving her a chance to become a teacher aid. Think about it, the arrogance of administrators considering whether a person with a BA in History would be a good TEACHER AID. And it gets better. Hidalgo County only pays teacher aids about $16K. This is one of those WTF moments. But my wife humbled herself and took what they offered in hopes that she could become a teacher. She did. And, due to a transition, she now earns more than most teachers in the Head Start program. She could not have done this without her college degree. Up north, where they need workers, it's easier to find work.

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