Teachers Must Be Paid What They're Worth

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by Patti Etter

Payson

While reading the April 11 issue regarding "Teacher raises kept to minimum," it stated that "due to step moves and education credits, the teachers would average out overall a 2.85-percent increase." What exactly does that mean? Would some be higher and some be lower than the 2.85 percent? Why was there no across the board increase not even a little one to acknowledge their hard work?

This article has made me wonder how the teachers of Payson schools will be able to keep their spirits and morale in an upbeat mode going into the last month of the school year. I know these teachers are professionals and will do their jobs, but they, too, like all the rest of us, are only human, and must feel like they were let down by their employer.

Let me state that I have no family members working for the Payson School District, but am a business owner who has two children in the Payson schools one in 9th grade and one in 7th grade, and both have been in the Payson school district since kindergarten.

I feel that our teachers are being short-changed by the Payson school district board members.

I heard on the news the other night that a Tempe school district is starting out new teachers at over $27,000 a year and was offering this to attract good teachers. New teachers in Payson will only receive $22,835 over $4,000 less a year or $347 a month less.

Doesn't Payson want to attract good teachers? How many of Payson's teachers might we lose due to lower pay? How many good teachers will Payson miss out on because of low pay and a much higher cost of living? How can the school district board members expect someone to live in Payson making only $1,900 a month which after taxes nets out to a little over $1,500 a month?

Some will say it can be done and yes it probably could, but you know that they wouldn't be able to buy a home here and that even rent would be about half their paycheck. And just think of all your other monthly expenses. Could you make it on $1,500 a month? Some might say they are being paid a decent salary. Well, just sit in on a class and see what their jobs are like in today's world and I believe your minds will be changed forever.

I think this move by the school board to offer no raise, per se, to the teaching staff is appalling. These are the people responsible for teaching our children, and I feel it is a very important job. To pay them very little is unprofessional for the high responsibilities they have.

And it is not an easy job. The teachers must have a terrific love for their jobs because who would want to be with over 30 different preteen and/or teenagers, with all their hormonal changes and attitudes, in every class they have. I know I couldn't do it.

And who of us would work more than 40 hours a week and not get paid for the overtime? You know teachers' jobs do not end when the dismissal bell rings and a lot of teachers take their work home with them.

We as parents have got to help out the teachers of our children. We as parents need to teach our children, at home, what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior. We definitely are not paying our teachers anywhere near enough if we expect them to also teach morals to our children; this has to be taught at home.

I once sat in on my daughters 4th grade class and the backtalk coming from these children, toward their teacher, was unbelievable and they did it knowing a parent was in the room. You can bet I talked to my daughter about what would happen to her if I ever heard that she was talking to teachers like that.

I would like to take this time to thank the teachers of my children's 7th and 9th grade classes. I know it hasn't been easy; they are a handful at this age.

And to the teachers of the 8th and 10th grades, I hope you will stick around as the students need good teachers to help prepare them for the upcoming AIMS test.

The Payson school district and the State of Arizona have got to start paying teachers a decent wage, and we as parents have got to exert pressure on them to do it or it will never be done. I hope that this letter and the many more that I hope will be written from the parents will make the school board re-think their position of salaries as usual. We must pay our teachers a better salary for the important job they perform.

"Where will the money come from?," people will ask. That is the hard question to answer. Almost like the one the town of Payson faced on funding for the new police station, fire station and library. Eventually it comes from "We the people." With the funds that are available, how it will be allocated will upset some, as extra curricular activities might have to be cut in order to increase teacher salaries.

We as parents must put pressure, by letter writing, on our state legislators to give more funding to our schools. Do you know that the state legislators must be hoping that we parents and citizens are so ignorant that we missed the study that shows Arizona ranks 50th of all the states dead last in how much money we spend on our children's education? I say the state legislators have failed, received an "F" on their own AIMS test, and I pray they work hard at their jobs to bring this grade up before my children are out of the school system. Because in the long run, the children are the ones who lose.

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