Letters to the Editor

Praise for teachers

April 19, 2011


To the editor:

I must respond to the letter written by Barbara Paris regarding teachers (Public Forum, April 16). Ms. Paris bashed teachers as overpaid, poorly dressed, lacking in skills and education, and “not deserving of respect.” Well.

I am not a teacher but freely proclaim that I owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to those stalwart individuals who saw beyond the brash young man and nurtured an intellect to maturity. Mr. Elliot, my fourth-grade teacher at Wyandanch Elementary, I salute you. You taught me that the space between my ears was more than a hat rack.

Mr. Sweetland, my physics teacher at Chaffey High School, I survived you. Seriously, five classes of students could only merit two A grades? I worked my rear off for one of them, and learned much as a result. Kudos to you. Roger, my college degree counselor at Antioch, thanks for teaching me to just say thanks to praise and not hide my intellect behind a facade of coolness.

Teachers are among the lowest-paid professions in their educational category. They labor for love and commitment. They nurture and prepare our children to inherit the future. They are owed our respect and have earned our gratitude.

Ms. Paris, I suggest you consider those teachers that furthered your education and submit that without those teachers you would not have been able to demonstrate your deplorable ignorance with such clarity and persuasiveness.


Liberty_One 7 years, 2 months ago

If they labor for love then they won't mind a few salary cuts.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 2 months ago

Ah, yes, there is no problem that a great Randian revolution can't resolve.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 2 months ago

Nothing can bother me this grand morning.

After all, I get to start it off with another bit of black-and-white truthyism from our resident true believer.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 2 months ago

I'm an undeclared socialist because I'm not a socialist. As I've said, I believe in a mixed economy, and that includes elements of both socialism and capitalism.

But getting there requires a messy process of politics, not reliance on a capitalist bible.

pace 7 years, 2 months ago

Lib1, could you present argument without relying on personal attack? Teachers and schools are worth supporting, I appreciate the value they add to our community and our future. I am sorry you feel you have to make personal attack on teachers, personally attack people who speak up for them. If you think something, tell us, how closing schools and turning teachers into private tutors for the wealthy works? Give us details on how not refining our youth, what would your conversion of an education system achieve? Share your reasoning on the need to waste our education infrastructure to honor your scheme , Your scheme to not support schools? You denigrate teachers and denigrate persons who find your outline too scant. Is it to help your church school get tax money? Is it to cut your tax bill? Is it your money maker? If you have no thoughts then do , just settle for sharing your precious feelings about how you feel. You don't have to present argument to post comments, you have shown that over and over. As far as I can tell your plan it to close public schools and libraries and those who have the money can hire personal teachers and buy books and that will teach all those who don't have the means some sort of lesson about your feelings. What a scheme.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 2 months ago

Even if your strawman broadside is true, isn't it also true that you get what you pay for, Grandma?

gr 7 years, 2 months ago

bozo, do you see a problem with the union? If there is no accountability, why wouldn't there be poor performing teachers? Why do you think they wouldn't exist among the good ones? If they could be eliminated for performing poorly, then there would be reason to excel.

notanota 7 years, 2 months ago

They can be. How man times does it need to be repeated? Teachers can be fired, even if they're tenured. It just means they're subject to due process. Why are we not complaining about administrators too lazy to document and go through the process for this alleged army of bad, tenured teachers that somehow managed to be great for three years before deciding they no longer wanted to work?

Stephen Roberts 7 years, 2 months ago

As much as I agree with some of the posts, teachers should not get a raise until the pay cuts the people at the admin building had to take last year are restored. While teachers gross pay stayed the same, these people had to take a salary cut to get the budget to work.

friendlyjhawk 7 years, 2 months ago

Recent study found that Kansas teachers are 47th in low salaries. Sure looks like they aren't too overpaid to me. Is Kansas 47th in what doctors, lawyers, mechanics, all kinds of business men and woman are paid? And let's remember too that these are the parents of the children to go to school to these teachers. Bet they all scream loudly when their pay is threatened. Teachers are easy targets for the anonymous writers to this forum. It is never wrong to expect good compensation for any work you are doing/ What do you pay to have your lawn taken care? Your car serviced? Your plumbing fixed? Your home roofed? Your nails done? Your hair cut and colored? The list is endless.

George Lippencott 7 years, 2 months ago

By whom? Please provide reference. Data I have seen suggests that Kansas is in the middle of the pack on almost everything.

Beth Bird 7 years, 2 months ago

Teacher pay in Kansas ranks 47th in the nation, according to an updated report by the Economic Policy Institute titled “The Teaching Penalty.”

Read more: http://blogs.kansas.com/weblog/2011/04/kansas-teachers-among-lowest-paid/#ixzz1K0M5OjYp

George Lippencott 7 years, 2 months ago

Study say exactly that. I might note that there are a host of states where the average salary varies by only a few dollars so the exact ranking is not quite as bad as it seems..

Not exactly somehting to be proud of though. By the by, where do the average tax payers of Kansa fit. After all they pay the bill and they certainly do not make what the average New Yorker makes. Last time I looked they were down about 26th and that data is old.

Could our salaries more or less reflect the ability of our tax payers to pay?

Note comparisons to average college graduates. It should be compared to average liberal arts graduates. That data can be found elsewhere.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 2 months ago

The rich say we're broke, so we must blame the teachers.

nativeson 7 years, 2 months ago

I agree with Mr. Burger regarding the gift of great teachers. I think most every person has a story about a teacher that made a difference in their life. There is no doubt that the two unions in the US representing teachers are not helping to solve the problem of incompetant teachers that need to be removed from the classroom. It is too difficult to rid school systems of a few bad apples. The structure is now set up to protect all teachers regardless of performance, thus it does not reward those who excel. The structure will need to change to make true progress.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 2 months ago

There is no such thing as "teacher tenure." What there is is a requirement of due process. In other words, there needs to be a proven basis for firing teachers, not just the whim of an administrator, or a school board member, or a disgruntled parent.

The ignorance and prejudice you display is a perfectly good demonstration of why a good school system needs due process.

Beth Bird 7 years, 2 months ago

True. There is no such thing as tenure. It is a common misconception.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 2 months ago

Depends on what you mean by "please," now doesn't it?

Does it mean educating kids? Or does it mean that cute young teacher giving a BJ to her principal? Or teaching creationism in science class to please a fundy school-board member? Or giving a higher grade to bad student just to shut up a loud-mouthed, obnoxious parent who can't accept that their kid is an idiot?

jafs 7 years, 2 months ago

Teachers should be required to do a good job, but I wouldn't equate that with pleasing bosses or customers.

It can/should be evaluated on the basis of consistent and objective national standards, in my view.

jafs 7 years, 2 months ago

You're kidding, right?

"Customers" have vastly differing ideas and wants.

jafs 7 years, 2 months ago

Well, that should make you feel good about yourself then.

So I'm doing you a service - you're welcome.

Now, explain how on earth pleasing customers, who have vastly differing wants and ideas about education, would be the only objective standard.

jafs 7 years, 2 months ago

I didn't mean objective to mean the object or goal - I meant it as something rather than subjective.

Parent A, B, and C all have different ideas about what they want their children to learn, and how they learn it. All of those are subjective opinions, and they're different from one another.

The fundamental idea of public education is that we want to provide all children with a basic education, one that is consistent from region to region, state to state, etc.

If we simply go about trying to please the parents, that consistency disappears.

And, maybe objective isn't quite the right word for it, but I'd prefer (if we're going to have public education at all), that what constitutes a basic education is determined by something other than simple parental preference.

tomatogrower 7 years, 2 months ago

So in this case the customer is the student and the parent. The parent wants the kid to go to college, the student wants to make good grades by doing nothing. Many parents just want good grades, whether or not little Johnny learns anything. So a good for profit school or a good teacher would just "guarantee" a high grade.

jonas_opines 7 years, 2 months ago

I love these response LTEs. A whole new column of the same posters saying the same thing as yesterday.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 2 months ago

There are quite a few admin people drawing $100,000 salaries.

Teachers in Lawrence are not recognized as hard working individuals dealing with the children of this community. Unfortunately their pay is a slap in the face with few exceptions.

Thank you Doug Burger for the straight talk.

Sell the admin building ASAP. Bring the admin back into the community. Keep the schools open.

Lawrence taxpayers were will to pay a sales tax that would supplement TEACHER salaries:

Would you favor a sales tax increase to provide more money for Lawrence teacher salaries?

80% of 5,198 participants said yes


ferrislives 7 years, 2 months ago

Bozo says "There is no such thing as "teacher tenure." What there is is a requirement of due process. In other words, there needs to be a proven basis for firing teachers, not just the whim of an administrator, or a school board member, or a disgruntled parent."

Merriam-Webster Definition of TENURE: the act, right, manner, or term of holding something (as a landed property, a position, or an office); especially : a status granted after a trial period to a teacher that gives protection from summary dismissal

WikiPedia Definition of TENURE: Tenure commonly refers to life tenure in a job and specifically to a senior academic's contractual right not to have his or her position terminated without just cause.

How are any of these different from what you stated Bozo? Tenure and "due process" are the same thing. Talk about a strawman argument....

notanota 7 years, 2 months ago

So the complaint is that teachers should be fired without just cause? Oh noez, the schools suck because cranky administrators can't walk around the school and randomly fire people without giving any sort of reason?

ferrislives 7 years, 2 months ago

No notanota, you obviously like to jump to conclusions. I was clarifying to Bozo that tenure and "just cause" are the same thing. That's it. I think that there should be just cause, but I also think that teacher's unions need to come up with a better system to get rid of bad teachers while rewarding the good ones. Why is that a problem?

barlowtl 7 years, 2 months ago

I would like to take this opportunity to thank those teachers who had a part in educating my children and my grandchildren. You have sacrificed much to pursue your love of children and teaching and we have all been blessed. It is a shame that in this day and age politics decree that it is your turn to be vilified in order that others may extend and solidify their power. I am so sorry that I do not have the power to help stop all this but at least I can say Thank You and God bless you! .

ferrislives 7 years, 2 months ago

In all honesty, my children have had wonderful teachers, but they've also had bad teachers. It all ended up being a crap-shoot each year on which kind of teachers we were going to get. Using my oldest as an example, while he attended elementary here in Lawrence, he had 3 stupendous teachers, 1 ok teacher, and 3 bad ones. I won't go into details, but there were some scarring moments for him with some of his teachers, and he doesn't trust teachers much anymore because of it.

So to the great teachers, I say KUDOS. Job well done; I wish there were more like you! Keep up the good work, and I'll keep working hard to help you in educating my children. That's my job, and I've been grateful to have you as partners!

And to the bad teachers, I say you should really look within yourselves to see how you are negatively affecting our children. You don't realize the damage that you can do!

jafs 7 years, 2 months ago

What, if anything, did you do or try to do about the bad teachers, and what happened?

ferrislives 7 years, 2 months ago

I tried communicating with each of those teachers several times, usually to no avail. If things got really bad with communication, I'd eventually talk with the principal to get things resolved. It usually took that step for those 3 bad ones to follow through with what they said they'd do. Unfortunately at that point, my child didn't trust teachers anymore, because they didn't help him when he asked for it.

A big issue my child faced was bullying while teachers chat during recess in one big group instead of supervising the children. So it ended up being a he said/she said sort of thing, and they never changed anything on their side to stop that sort of thing.

jafs 7 years, 2 months ago

That's very unfortunate.

What was the principal's position on it? Most schools have some sort of anti-bullying policy, I think.

Kasha 7 years, 2 months ago

True. Perhaps she thinks a lack of morality is a separate, and serious, topic.

Kasha 7 years, 2 months ago

Interesting comments -- many proving the point that, as Ms. Paris states, the authors were obviously not taught writing skills. And Mr Burger mentions four teachers from his sixteen years of "education" that he remembers. That leaves a clear majority of teachers that, one would assume, did NOT leave a memorable impression. In this economic crisis, raising teacher salaries "just because" makes no sense. Let parents drop in unexpectedly to any classroom at any time and observe personally what goes on in the name of teaching AND learning. They may be enlightened. Negatively.

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