Increasing benefit costs equals pay cut

Published 11:13 am Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Dear Editor,

Teachers’ health care and retirement benefits are a very important part of our total compensation. To increase the cost of those programs to participants in effect gives us a pay cut. I know of no other profession where an individual with an advanced degree and many years of experience works so hard, for such long hours, and for so little respect and compensation.

I put in at least 60 hours a week, not only at the school, but also at home, grading papers, planning lessons, and preparing activities which I think will benefit my students. We also spend a good deal of time during the summers on professional development activities to help us improve our skills and knowledge.

I would like to invite anyone who believes that teachers are adequately paid to shadow me on the job for a week. Stand on your feet for six hour-long classes every day. Make sure that you motivate and interest the students you’re teaching. Stand out in the hall between classes to monitor student behavior.

Show up at 7:30 every morning to begin work and leave after 5 p.m. to go home and grade papers. Take your personal time to respond to emails from concerned parents or call them about their child’s progress in school. Chaperone school dances until 10 p.m. after you’ve taught all day.

Sponsor a sport or club after school one day each week for at least an hour. Lunch break? Your lunch break will be spent taking students to the cafeteria, monitoring their behavior there, making sure that they clean up their tables, and marching them by the restroom on their way back to the class where you will teach some more.

I love my students and believe in what I do, but increasingly fewer and fewer people find themselves willing to work so hard for such meager rewards. We already see many talented young people try teaching for a year or two, only to leave for greener pastures. If our society makes teaching unappealing, where will the next generation of teachers come from? Will anyone with talent, intelligence and energy even consider this profession? And then, if we staff our future schools with people unable or unwilling to rise to the enormous challenge of educating our youth, what will become of our nation?

Christine Golliver

Oak Mountain Middle School