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A teacher stands on her professionalism and refuses cold cash

Susan Notes: This is good news because one teacher has stepped forward and asserted her professionalism. Suzanne tells me this isn't a big deal--it's only the right thing to do.

Here's Suzanne's original letter to me, a letter I treasure because it is from a teacher who has a clear sense of who she is and what she should be about.

I am a teacher in Southern California. I received my paycheck yesterday. There was a stipend for $100.00. When I called to say there had been a mistake, I did not earn the money, I was told the district office thought all employees at my site should get a stipend for bringing our scores up enough to get off all program improvement lists. I feel insulted as a professional educator. I teach because I love and believe in kids, I make a decent, honest living. I morally object to getting money for bringing up test scores. I do not believe money should be tied to student test scores. My intention is to return the money to the district office, preferably, I would like the stipend removed - off my pay history. I do intend to write a strong letter, but have been "warned" that I shouldn't insult the D.O.(as if that has stopped me before!!!) Another thought was to just donate the money to FairTest or Substance, but I want to be on record that I do not want money tied to test scores. Any ideas or suggestions? I feel like a prostitute!!!

April 20, 2006

Mike Walker
Business Services

I am writing to request that the stipend given to me for being a part of the Landers Elementary Staff in recognition for working our way off all program improvement lists be reversed.

I do greatly appreciate the recognition by the District Office and the Board of Education, but I honestly do believe money should never be tied to student test scores, on principle.

I teach because I love and believe in kids. I make a decent and honest living, and I believe I should have professional working conditions. I give my heart and soul to my students on a daily basis, and expect to continue.

I do know in business it is appropriate to give bonuses, but I do not consider what I do as business. Yes, we have you in the District Office to take care of the business end of education, but that is not where my heart nor professionalism is.

Again, I thank the Board and District Administrators for the gesture - but I am unable to accept any money tied to test scores.

Please take it out of my next check.

Thank you,

Suzanne M Hancock
Landers Elementary

— Susan M. Hancock


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