Not surprisingly, last month's column about Harford's underpaid teachers drew plenty of responses, mostly from people sympathetic to the teachers.
I received a number of e-mails and responded to each, as is my policy, because if you take the time to read and respond, I feel I owe you an acknowledgment of your support. There were a couple of old-fashioned letter responses as well, which by now should have made their way into print in The Aegis Open Forum.
So, here are what some e-mailers and one texter had to say:
From Mary Harris: "BTW, the parents just expect the teachers to do their jobs to 150%. That is why you don't hear them complaining. They EXPECT it. I expect to start reading something other than the Aegis trying to stir up teachers in their articles. Can't you write about your corns, or IBS problems, or something you may know more about????????"
Jim Miller had a point-by-point rebuttal, concluding with this: "I don't think the teachers words have become akin to Chicken Little warning about the sky falling. I think over the past few years the sky has fallen and continues to fall. It's a shame you believe no one is listening - maybe that's part of the problem or perception. What has really polarized the Union and County is the often patronizing and arrogant attitude of the Superintendent and Board. And in this case the AEGIS.
"On another point, comparing a job requiring at least 4 years of education and in most cases a Master's Degree with positions that do not require a high school education is insulting. But then again wasn't that your original intent.?"
Dale Gomez wrote: "I hate taxes as much as the next person, so in these hard times stomaching an increase is not really an option in my opinion. So I agree with you on this point. However, I would like to point out some problems with your analysis and comparison of teacher pay. You made the huge mistake of comparing apples and oranges. A taxi driver, a police officer, and an enlisted military person are all important, however, they did not have to get a degree in order to be in the position they are currently in. A teacher not only had to put off 4 potential years of earnings, in order to meet the minimum qualifications of the position, they probably are also carrying a significant amount of student loan debt. This is not to mention the money they paid during the process of getting educated to get that 'well paying job.'
"Furthermore, because your 'comparison jobs' have lower qualification bars to pass to enter them, you theoretically have a larger pool of potential candidates for those jobs. This means you should have effectively shifted your supply and demand curve for these others jobs to a lower pay rate. With that said, it appears Harford County maybe a little short sighted in being so dismissive of teachers and their complaints."
From Jane Martin came these words: "I read your commentary with one thought in the back of my mind, and that would be the fact that teachers must achieve and pay for a bachelor's degree in education, and if they want to continue teaching, must achieve and pay for master's degree in education. Beyond that, teachers must also take continuing education courses to maintain their certification to teach in the state of Maryland. While there is no doubt that police officers, firefighters and soldiers are crucial to our safety as a society, I take offence to your assertion that teachers serve in this category of service.
"Teachers are directly responsible for the education of the next generation of police officers, doctors, firefighters, lawyers, soldiers and every other occupation in our society, including those in Congress and the Office of the President. Teachers teach because they want to teach, regardless of what they are paid....very few leave the profession because of the lack of salary increases. As for 'summer's off', most teachers engage in curriculum development or other activities which benefit students during the warmer months of the school year. Please reconsider your opinion of teachers as being somewhat undeserving as being considered underpaid...they most certainly are."
Finally, a long series of text messages from a person not identified by name: "IN defense of teachers, unlike other rich nations teachers make far less. Most buy much for students but unlike bsns emps the cap is 250 tx…Sure. They have Masters degrees but make 20K less than others w Masters yet they are responsible for our nation's children….And teachers usually work a year in nine months due to take home work many many hrs. unlike police etc tchrs pay for their traing."
Ah, education and our modern means of communication, what would we do without them!