Total Pageviews

Search This Blog

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Teacher of the Year Verses the Tea Party

From the Times Union

by James Howell

While I can't argue with the sentiment of "we deserve a raise," this was in fact a suggestion by a colleague, and not words of my own. Clay County is a "high performing school district," no school in the county was marked at less than a "B," and Florida ranked 10th in quality educational systems in the nation. All this is in spite of Florida being 50th in the nation in terms of educational spending ... meaning Florida is already spending the minimum amount of money in the country on education, and this is BEFORE Governor Scott's proposed cuts. I'd say we produce a significant return on the investment of the taxpayer, since the definition of quality is getting a lot from investing very little.

However, in spite of all of this, Clay County teachers are not asking for a RAISE. A raise would be a revisitation to the salary terms in the contract, and an increase for every level of pay from the beginning teacher to the longest serving educator. All we want, and all we have asked for, is our STEP in salary, or the next level that has already been agreed to in our salary scale. (This amounts to $300 to $500 dollars per year for most). This is NOT A RAISE, but the adjusted increase for experience. Furthermore, the county HAS the money to pay for this right now. They received over $7 million from the federal government for the specific purpose of salaries and boosting the economy of the community...and they have done nothing with it. This is in addition to the $14 million they have in the reserve fund, which is far above the necessary minimum, or even a reasonably conservative increase. Furthermore, our top-earning teachers have taken a pay cut, some upwards of $20,000 per year, to help finance the STEP increase for those beneath them on the salary scale. Given our high levels of performance, the amount of money the School Board has in reserve and from the federal Government, and our own people sacrificing for it, I'd say we deserve our STEP.

Clay County teachers understand the current economic crisis as well as anyone. We understand that every cent counts right now, and why some people are looking for cuts to make in government spending. What we do not understand is how people consider our profession to be in the same group as government entitlements, or that because our very job requires personal sacrifice we should just keep on sacrificing because we are not real human beings, since we do not pursue the levels of reward that might be available elsewhere in the private sector. Ironically, these same people who wish to curb entitlements are seeking to cut their perceived problem's only true long-term solution: education. Without education empowering the next generation, they will seek further government assistance, thus increasing the tax burden on the public. Somehow, the government employee who serves the public interest, the one in the trenches actually making a day-to-day impact, not isolated in the corridors of power, has become the "wage-grazer," or "freeloader" that takes taxpayers' money without sufficient contribution, in the eyes of some of the public.

Teachers are not alone in this misrepresentation. No one cares for the firemen until their house is burning down, no one cares for the plight of the policemen until they are being robbed or threatened, and no one cares for the teacher until the country itself implodes from within.


No comments:

Post a Comment