Teachers need legislators’ support

Published 5:20pm Monday, February 6, 2012

Dear Editor,

Recently, our leaders in Montgomery, via the state Ethics Commission, have come up with new guidelines regarding gifts for teachers. While I approve and support ethics guidelines, which are perhaps long overdue, I have to wonder why teacher gifts would be included in these new guidelines.

In my 22 years as an elementary school teacher, I have never (nor do I know of any teacher who has) received lavish gifts, monetary or otherwise. We receive items like handmade gifts, notes, coffee mugs, gift cards (never expensive ones) boxes of candy, and other simple gifts from our students.

These are always special and always appreciated because they come from the heart — the very best gifts of all. So I must wonder at our state officials who deem it necessary to police our gifts. Is it a matter of punishing everyone for the sins of a few? We do not get all-expense paid trips or expensive restaurant meals wrapped up in pretty paper and ribbons from our students nor do we receive kickbacks or massive salaries for being the best coaches on the football field.

I would appreciate it if my leaders in Montgomery would pay more attention to what really matters: smaller class sizes, adequate funding for classrooms, and the recognition that teachers are not paid overtime yet many work early, stay late, and work on weekends. (Contrary to “urban legend,” teachers are not paid in the summer months. We are nine-month employees who elect to have our paycheck spread out over a twelve month period.)

I would appreciate the fact that our state leaders recognize that our students must bring paper towels, wet wipes, and other school supplies just so we have what we need to get through the school year and that the infrastructure of some of our schools warrants repair.

I would appreciate it if our leaders understood that most of us spend much of our own money to get what we want and need for our classrooms. Perhaps I should invite our leaders in Montgomery to give up some of their salaries and gifts and help with the many problems that our public schools face.

Do not undermine the teachers. Do not cast a shadow on the loving hearts of our children and parents who support us. We are the glue holding it all together.

Sandra H. Swindall

Meadow View Elementary

Alabaster, Alabama

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