Teacher With 25-Year Tenure Tells School Board He Wishes They Gave Him The 'Same Respect' As A School Bus

His story is similar to many teachers across the country.

Teacher smiling with arms crossed in front of a yellow school bus. Creatas Images, SeventyFour, ldpodcast / CanvaPro

An unfortunate reality for many teachers in the United States is becoming increasingly more widespread — affecting everyone from student teachers to legacy teachers who’ve been in their positions for decades. 

This one teacher’s story highlights the root cause of this unfortunate reality: the inexcusably low salaries many educational professionals are forced to reckon with. 

With over 25 years of tenure at his school, Cal Vande Hoef confronted school leadership for their economic decisions over the past year. 


This legacy teacher told the school board he wished they gave him the ‘same respect’ as school buses after they purchased new ones instead of giving out raises.  

“All I could think is ‘I wish I had the same respect as a bus’,” Vande Hoef shared. “I’m not special at all. Every teacher here has suffered for this community.” 



RELATED: Man Tells Attractive Female Coworker Everyone Avoids Her At Work Because They're 'Intimidated' By Her Looks


In a recent school board meeting, captured on TikTok with teachers overflowing into a small room, tenured teacher, Vande Hoef, shared his heart-wrenching story.

Exhausted, drained, and fed-up after a 25-year career teaching for the same school district, he finally stood up to school leadership to share his story of heartbreak, regret, and dedication. 

After the district’s decision to buy new school buses made its rounds to all the teachers, he felt it was necessary to relay the opinions of many staff members and force them to understand the sacrifices he’d endured for little compensation in return. 

After 25 years of teaching, he said the school board didn't keep their ‘promise’ of ensuring adequate salaries. 

Studies show that the average teacher's salary is even lower than it was 10 years ago. The average teacher makes around $60,000 a year and brings home around $2,000 less per year than they did a decade ago, and this tenured teacher was no exception.


Tenured Teacher Tells School Board He Wishes They Gave Him The Same Respect As A School Bus Photo: Max Fischer / Canva Pro

He shared that he was on “the negotiation team” for salaries over 20 years ago when they made the decision to say it was “unfair” to compare teacher’s salaries with that of larger districts. Despite that, they promised to keep salaries “above average” compared to similar-sized districts in the area. 

RELATED: Man Argues That It's Perfectly Okay To Lie On Your Resume


“I have a friend that works in the Twin Cities [a larger district],” he said, “who makes $25,000 more a year than I do. Maybe I shouldn’t expect the extra $750,000 in career earnings.” He confronted the board for breaking their promise. 

“I personally make about $10,000 less [than similarly sized districts in the area] … over my 25 years of teaching, that’s about $250,000,” he said. “That difference is more than my district matched [retirement plan]. That difference is more than the worth of my house, my car, and my personal savings account.” 

Not only that, he said his average co-worker in the district would only have around $91 to spend every two weeks on gas, food, and other expenses after paying for their necessary bills. 

Even after all of that, Vande Hoef said he’s “proud” of the legacy he’s built at his school but can’t help but relay the incredible “cost” it’s had on his life. 


He confessed his teaching career took away from his ‘time, relationships, and health.’ 

“Besides salary losses, 60-, 80-, and 100-hour work weeks have cost me my health, leaving me in chronic pain,” Vande Hoef shared. “I’ve given up years with friends and family, damaged relationships, and failed to live up to obligations.” 

In addition, he vulnerably shared that when his wife was “actively dying from cancer,” he had to call in her parents from out of state to help with care while he worked. While he intended to “make it up to her” during the summer, he was unable to. She passed before the school year was over. 

Maggie Perkins shared her similar experience with the harshness of teaching and the impossible work-life balance she juggled. 



She admitted the lifestyle and working conditions many teachers experience were linked with increased anxiety, insomnia, digestive health issues, and much more. With long hours, increased financial burdens, and extensive moral pressures, teachers face a lot more stress and anxiety now (both inside and outside the classroom). 


RELATED: Boss Tells Hardworking Employee To Come Back ‘Now’ From His Lunch Break Because They Are Too Busy At Work

Teaching salaries have become increasingly low and benefits like summers off have lost their appeal. 

Amidst more prevalent work-from-home positions, many teachers are feeling the pull towards hybrid work. Although summers off has always been an enticing perk of becoming a teacher, the appeal is waning.

Especially with declining salaries, long hours, physical and mental tolls, and strict vacation policies, districts have found it more and more challenging to find teachers. Some have even resorted to hiring a wide variety of candidates for teaching positions including ones that aren’t “qualified.”


Tenured Teacher Tells School Board He Wishes They Gave Him The Same Respect As A School Bus Photo: FatCamera / Canva Pro

Unfortunately, many have not implemented salary raises to retain or attract teachers. That means many are being forced to leave their jobs out of necessity. Whether it be burnout, health struggles, or simply lack of compensation, over 86% of members of the National Education Administration reported teacher losses in the industry compared to just 5% in 1992. 

Not only is it unfortunate, but it’s scary — for both the future of education and young students. So, the next time you go in for parent-teacher conferences, be sure to give your child’s teacher an extra pat on the back and advocate for increased pay whenever possible. 


RELATED: Neurodivergent Dad Says Parenting A Toddler Is 'The Most Painful Experience' Of His Life

Zayda Slabbekoorn is a news and entertainment writer at YourTango focusing on pop culture analysis and human interest stories.