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[Susan notes: Notice how one writer manages to get in a jab about teacher training.]

Submitted to New York Times but not published
07/03/2005

To the editor




In these last days before my summer job begins, I read "Reading, Writing, Retailing," by Dave Eggers, Nínive Calegari and Daniel Moulthrop (Op-Ed, June 27).



I felt, at last, that I was understood. Teaching, though always rewarding, is quite stressful.



If the stress ended when the last student left the building on June 28, it would be O.K. But it doesn't, and it always comes back to the money - inadequate financing for schools and inadequate pay for teachers.



One way or another, until the budget crisis in the New York City school system is remedied, including a decent contract for teachers, all children are left behind.



Karyn Kay

New York





To the Editor:



One thing that often goes unacknowledged about teacher salaries is how much teachers spend out of their own pockets. My salary as a teacher in North Texas is above average, but I am given little or no money for necessary items like art supplies, paperback books or bulletin board materials.



My school serves mostly underprivileged students, many of whom come to school with no supplies. I typically provide up to 30 of them with basics like pencils and paper.



Teachers are expected to create a warm, inviting learning environment out of small, dismal classrooms. They are also encouraged to move away from worksheets and textbooks to projects and hands-on learning. In economically disadvantaged schools, this means that they will foot the bill for any extra supplies.



I love my job and will continue to make sacrifices to provide the best for my students, but it would be nice to be reimbursed.



Kristi Wilkins

Arlington, Tex.





To the Editor:



You cannot compare a teacher's salary, based on a working year of less than 200 days, to that of other workers. If teachers want to work during vacations to make up that shortfall, they can.



Teachers get extraordinarily generous health and retirement benefits. Many of the teachers I know retire in their early 50's.



Yes, the conditions under which they work could be vastly improved, as could the training they receive, and that would go a long way to making the profession more attractive and valued by students, teachers and parents alike.



Susan A. McGregor

Kingston, R.I.





To the Editor:



Reading about teachers reminded me of the days 30 years ago when my children attended high school in Metuchen, N.J. Their history teacher worked evenings as a bagger at the local A&P, and this surely did not increase his stature in his pupils' eyes. I was therefore not surprised when they talked of their teachers in pejorative terms.



Obviously, raising teachers' salaries is the answer. Why does it not happen?



Rudolph Pick

Pompano Beach, Fla.





To the Editor:



Re "Reading, Writing, Retailing" (Op-Ed, June 27): When comparing teachers' salaries to other workers', one should take into account teachers' shorter work schedules. Teachers have traded autonomy for the benefits of a powerful union that ensures job security, good benefits and a pension at age 55.



High taxes pay generous teacher salaries in wealthier communities. The real issue is ensuring that poorer communities also get good teachers.



Sheila Feit

Syosset, N.Y.





To the Editor:



As a mechanical engineer whose salary dropped by two-thirds when I became a physics teacher, I have developed a test to see whether Americans are really concerned about public education.



Just examine the cars in the student parking lot (excluding the "clunkers" - believe it or not, some responsible parents still insist that their children buy their own cars). Now compare them with those in the faculty lot.



When the average value of the teachers' cars equals or exceeds that of the students', you will know that Americans have finally gotten serious about education.



Mark Jander

Gig Harbor, Wash.

multiple authors


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