Rewriting “Teachers: Driving Our Future”

Recently, Uber released a small marketing page promoting their UberTeacher initiative: recruiting and highlighting the stories of underpaid teachers around the US who, to scrape by with their meager wages, are forced to find another job like driving for Uber.

The Awl even wrote a post highlighting the tone-deafness apparent on the page:

The problem with Uber self-seriously announcing that it “provides teachers with the flexibility and opportunity they need to continue creating a foundation of excellence for students across the country” is ultimately a matter of tone, not the literal fact that teachers are using Uber to supplement their incomes.

If I were writing for (and running) Uber, this is what I would say:

As communities are heading back to school, we’d like to take a moment to talk about the educators who are also our Uber partner drivers. Whether it’s an afternoon shift or a summertime gig, partnering with Uber provides teachers with the flexibility and opportunity they need to earn living wages and help provide for their families, and we’d like to thank them for choosing to work with us.

Every day teachers are asked to do more with less, constantly faced with new challenges and limited resources. In a society that undervalues the impact of educators, we know our service is one way for them to make a better living. In no way does this solve the larger problem, but we hope our contribution can help individuals in small, real ways, as we pour resources into legislation and lobbying that will help improve their situation as a whole. No one should be forced to work a second job to be able to earn a living, and we understand that. We’re working our hardest to make sure this situation is temporary, and providing help while it’s still an issue.

We want to support politicians like Governor Pat. McCrory in North Carolina who understand the problem at hand, and are fighting for change in Washington. Anywhere we operate, we will support initiatives that incentivize and reward teachers for their hard, oft overlooked work, while reducing the need for them to seek out secondary incomes like driving for us.

“Teachers, in general, need a little bit more money. With Uber, I get to pick when I want to drive and how much money I want to bring in. I can be a great teacher and make both happen.” — Jenny Hochmiller, High Tech Early College

Teachers are wonderful leaders in a community, and we know the influence they can make in the lives of our children — and it’s a terrible reality that they are woefully underpaid and overworked. We hope providing flexible, part time work can allow them to worry less about wages and focus more on the students they nurture and educate.

“I’m a criminal justice instructor and deputy sheriff – not to mention a father of two girls. As a driver with Uber, I see first hand how Uber takes safety to the next level.” — Corey Watson, Colerain High School

We’re doing everything we can to help educators — the guardians of our children, under appreciated and underpaid — provide a solid living for their families, while we fight and fund against the abhorrent situation they’re under in our society today. These posts will highlight their stories and our approach to amending this situation.

The long term goal for Uber is to build a transportation system for the future, one that can be used by anyone, anywhere to transport themselves or their belongings to any other place, without the financial, environmental, and social costs that plague our own-your-own-car society today.

We’re constantly working to build a future without the problems people face right now. We know that if we don’t take a look at all the issues, we’ll miss the forest for the trees. So we’ve decided that the financial well being of the people we employ as our drivers today (and everyone else who’s chosen to work with us to earn what they need to survive) is a serious, complex problem that needs to be addressed from a legal, social, and technological level. We have the resources to help provide a future where wages are fair and livable, and no one has to work multiple jobs to live comfortably.

So we’re going to do everything to make that reality our destination.

Maybe in another life, Uber would write this.

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