I'm responding to R.L. Green's letter of Oct. 16 regarding teachers' pay. Mr. Green, you were right in two aspects. Paying someone more money doesn't always equal better performance, and the desire to teach does come from the heart and mind.
However, if you can't make a living and raise a family comfortably, no matter how much you love your work or home, you may be forced to go elsewhere. Do you want first-year, inexperienced teachers in the schools every year? They are valuable with their new ideas and high expectations, but you can never trade that for the insight of experienced, master teachers.
A teacher's work year is longer than you stated. It is 9 1/2 months, not nine months. In regard to the three weeks' break and paid holidays, don't most professions provide similar benefits with their positions? (i.e. two to three weeks paid vacations, as well as paid holidays). Therefore subtracting these times from a teacher's work year is not equitable. So, a teacher starts out at $20,000 for 9 1/2 months of work, not eight months, which is comparable to $25,000 for a 12-month job, not $30,000.
Mr. Green mistakenly thinks (as most people do) that teachers work only eight hours a day. Many hours are put into being a "dedicated teacher": grading, preparing lessons, contacting parents by phone or at home and more. Teachers commonly work 10 to 11 hours a day. Many start work as early as 7:15 a.m. and stay as late as 5 or 6 o'clock. Then they take work home to do in the late evening. This does not include the many hours spent working on the weekends, which can be an additional two to eight hours.
Teachers spend hundreds of personal dollars supplementing their classrooms to make education interesting and meaningful. These amounts vary from $100 to those who have two-income households spending up to $2,000 a year on their classrooms.
As for getting a summer job, it's not so easy. Employers seek permanent help, not someone leaving soon after training finishes.
Most teachers spend the summers paying their hard-earned money to keep their certification and further their education to better teach children. (Teachers' training is at their own expense and on their own time. Many professions pay for training and pay the worker while he is being trained.) Consider other professions which require a college education; their starting salary is more than $30,000 a year.
In regards to year-round school, I don't know who you're talking to, but in the schools, talk is very favorable. Teachers are dedicated to children and know that shorter breaks would increase learning.
Teachers hold this country's future in their hands. Who gives the educational foundation to the doctors, senators, lawyers, postal workers, managers, bankers, pilots, Realtors, accountants, police officers and many others who make more money than teachers? It's a sad case when people do not value the education and hard work of teachers.
I invite you to shadow a teacher for a day.