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Statehouse Live: Teacher retirements, reductions increase dramatically

I'm a former teacher returning to the profession this coming school year. I have been off after 7 years of teaching because my departing salary of $38,345 was not enough to afford daycare for our two children so I stayed home and ran a home daycare. I made great about $28,000 caring for 4 addtional kids. My oldest child is ready for preschool so I am going back to teaching (which I love) and so far, my summer has consisted of several things that pertain to this discussion.

While running daycare, I cared for teachers' kids. The kids finished coming to me on Fri. May 27, the last day for teachers to work in the districts around me. I had Memorial Day off like most professions and then attended a 3 day UNPAID inservice for my new job before even signing my contract. All of my co-teachers were there too, unpaid, meals at our expense, and any with children had to pay childcare for three days. (Obviously, I am aware that if you have children, they have expenses. However, the point here is that every teacher in my building attended this inservice after their contract ended, at their expense, merely for the purpose of professionalism.) I had that Friday off, and then earned money babysitting for 4 days last week for my daycare moms who had inservices in their district that they had to attend for free. This is my first week of "summer." I do have the next couple of weeks mostly free except for the time I will spend working in my completely empty classroom and time i will babysit to earn money. In mid-July, I will take a two week class, Mon.- Fri., 8-5, completely at my own expense. The class will only give me three of the 10 hours I would need to move over on the salary schedule. I will have the last week of July off and then will attend, unpaid, the new teacher academy for my district for three days before starting my contract on August 8. I just signed a contract for 188 days (this accounts for all breaks) for $38, 134.

This is the reality of many teachers in my generation. The nonsense about 170 days,3 months off, getting a full-time job for 3 months of the year and other silly talking points come from people who have never bothered to research the reality. Almost anywhere in Kansas, a teaching contract is about 187 days (not 170) and they already account for days off. This summer, I will donate 16 days of free professional development to my district at my own expense and until I get my additional 7 hours, will not move one dollar on the pay scale. I don't know any other profession where so many employees (there are 22 teachers in my summer class and about 26 that attended the unpaid professional development) would do that on their own time and expense for the sake of professionalism and still find boards like this that criticize, devalue, and scrutinize.

June 16, 2011 at 12:20 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

KU proposes tuition increases for 2011-12 school year

I understand completely that a college education is expensive and will continue to get more expensive. However, many go to KU and K-State for the experience of the environments, the campus cultures, the loyalty to the traditions, the fun that can be had in the cities, the athletic programs, and the big experiences that can be offered at the two largest universities in the state. Of course some go for a certain program, but for many degrees there are other options. Fort Hays State University has a very nice campus, excellent programs and professors, state of the art technology, online programs and degree programs that are highly respected in the professional world. The cost for a full year currently is $3,942.00 for full time (30 credit hours). Pittsburg State and Emporia State are slightly higher (about $1000 a year higher) but still half of what it costs to attend KU. Washburn and Wichita State also come in several grand less than KU and K-State. I am not bashing KU at all......I am a huge KU fan and there are lots of reasons that have already been mentioned for the high cost. I am just pointing out to people that complain that there are other alternatives in tough times. I attended one of the smaller Board of Regent colleges 10 years ago because my parents and I couldn't afford KU. I met my husband at college, also getting his degree and both of us work in industries with people from many other state universities and in the end there is no difference in our professions.

May 18, 2011 at 4:48 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Veteran teacher responds to letter’s criticism

Absolutely classy!! My husband works in the same district as you do and the manner with which you have spoken up is outstanding. My husband is one that works in a support position and we have found in this district that all staff recieve raises at times, no matter their position, so I guess for our district at least, a letter for a raise for the custodians is not necessary.
There will always be an internet bully.....most people that read these things view it as just that and dismiss it as having no meaningful value to the conversation. I am thrilled that you did not engage in any sort of name calling, insulting, degrading, speculation, or other disrespectful rhetoric on behalf of teachers or the district you work for. It is one thing to discuss issues openly; it is another to be critical and insulting. You have avoided participating in that in an admirable way! Even with your letter and professional replies to the criticism, you have educated any student that can open this forum. You have shown them how to remain classy, professional, calm, and respectful, even when that courtesy is not being offered to you. With your tactful replies, you have shown them to always be cautious of what you put on the internet because you never know who is out there reading. You have shown them why you are a trustworthy teacher with their interests at heart. I am sure that you are well aware that people that criticize like this are a much smaller handful than the people in your life that offer you great support. You have family, Principals, staff, teammates, students, parents, community members, etc., etc., etc., that do appreciate you very much. Take care Ms. E. and thanks for speaking out!!

April 25, 2011 at 9:52 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Teachers’ hours

I have tried multiple times today to post research on local and regional salaries but each time I have been given a "programming error" and my posts have not shown up. Thank you kugrad for confirming my thoughts on salary. $58,000 anywhere in this region except Shawnee Mission and Blue Valley (where it is closer to the middle) is very high on the payscale with nearly 20+ years of experience and a Masters plus additional graduate credit. It is only on some payscales with a Doctorate. Lawrence is in this category - http://www.usd497.org/Employment/0716... - Appendix B. Bashor Linwood and Shawnee Heights are similiar to Lawrence, they only pay $58,000 at the very top. Some don't ever get to $58,000. Topeka Public School's salary stops at $56,140. http://documents.topekapublicschools....
Baldwin is also in this category. I don't like to argue about this subject in terms of what teachers do and don't do.....it gets old and tiresome to always be defending a vocation choice to people who have never set a foot in a classroom and have no idea. However, when someone is throwing out fiction as fact and impressing others to believe it and pass it on (local teachers make $58,000, some teachers make $60,000-$80,000) I like to try to offer up some facts. Teacher salary is readily available online for many surrounding districts....check it out before you quote salaries as a fact.

April 22, 2011 at 11:26 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Teachers’ hours

It is disapppointing to come on here and read comments that just throw numbers or facts out without research behind them. Very few districts anywhere in this region even pass $60,000 at the top of their pay schedule and the ones that do are with a doctorate and many years of experience. $74,016 is copied and pasted directly off of the Blue Valley School District certified pay schedule - of course this is in Blue Valley, one of the highest paying school districts anywhere in our region. This is also with 27 years of experience and a doctorate degree.....know alot of public school teachers earning doctorates? Is the education industry respected enough that someone would go out and earn a doctorate and continue teaching at the public school level? Professional educators do continue to educate themselves, most do quite a bit of professional development, both in their districts and on their own. But I don't know many that pursue a doctorate degree and continue to teach public school.

As you browse district websites, you see very few teachers with both 25+ years of experience and a doctorate. There are several reasons for this.....
1 - Because a doctorate is extremely expensive (many teachers can't afford it for the payoff)
2 - Earning a doctorate is time consuming (most teachers work much more than people say, have families, second jobs, etc.....and don't have time for this type of academic work)
3- Like most professions, teachers that pursue a doctorate have another level of work in mind and probably want to earn what they are worth, having achieved this level of education.
4 - Sadly, there is absolutely no more or less respect to a teacher that has achieved this in the public school industy.
5 - Once you retire a few years later from your now 30+ years of experience, if you would like to reenter the work force, no district in it's right mind will hire you because of the pay they would have to give instead of pulling a brand new teacher in for $38,583 (BVSD)
I'm not saying that teachers cannot eventually make decent money with years of experience and further education, but it is unrealistic to throw around the figures $60,00 - $80,000 as a paycheck for a teacher anywhere in this region.

For the sake of comparison - another regional example - Topeka public schools - First year - $35,040 and a step T with a doctorate - $56,140 with no further increase unless the entire scale is changed. If you get a doctorate, go work for Blue Valley or move on to something else!

A final, comparison, probably the most realistic for the largest population of teachers in this area comes from the Lawrence public schools website.......this scenerio is a teacher working with 10 - 12 years of experience and earning a masters degree and working for an average paying school district - $44,780. The top of their payscale stops at $58,830 with all experience and a doctorate.

April 22, 2011 at 11:18 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Lawrence Education Association negotiators ask for improved benefits

I was going to avoid a comment in this discussion because I am deeply passionate about teachers, education, students, and any other employee that chooses to be at the mercy of the state and the tax payer but there is so much wrong with this statement that the other side had to be mentioned. Is this statement just intended to get someone fired up? No one can really be so arrogant to assume that they work harder or are worth more than any other person, no matter how many days a year they work. Would it be okay if someone that did not work in your field had that opinion of your contribution to society? Can anyone really believe that teaching is either a cushy job or that teachers are paid to not work year around? Have you done it?

The argument about payment is so old that maybe teachers should go back to being paid for 10 months. This was common 10 years ago. No school district pays a teacher more money for the two months that school is not in session. In every school district, a salary is negotiated, set, agreed on by all parties involved. This salary is based on a number of contract days - i.e. 192 day contract gets paid $38,000 and benefits. This total is then taken and divided out into equal pay across the 12 months of the year. This is actually to the benefit of the districts that do not have to change anything in payroll until someone leaves a district, not to pay teachers not to work. 10 years ago,teachers had a choice in most districts to be paid over 10 months or 12 months. Now, for the convience of bookkeeping, most districts require electronic deposits of equal pay across 12 months. You hand them a bank slip, they set it up and nobody has to maintain it. Even more important to the times we live in, I would imagine that the state really appreciates that taxes are taken out of a teacher's check year around. If all of the thousands of teachers in Kansas paid no taxes during June and July, would the state budget their tax money across the other 10 months to cover June and July's expenses? The teachers would pay the same taxes, it would just cut off in the summers and most teachers would just budget for it but would the state?

April 21, 2011 at 9:59 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Rural areas get tax break from Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback

It is crazy that while education is being cut more and more, Mr. Brownback would want to give tax breaks to encourage people to relocate to rural Kansas. The same areas he wants to encourage growth in are the areas that take some of the largest hits from loss of education funding. Many have not been able to sustain schools at all and have closed schools and consolidated with other small schools. They have cut all extras, programs, activities, and have thinned their staffs down to beyond the bare minimum. Many rural schools are just barely surviving at all, but people should pack up their families and move there? Seems like a very unviable plan. No jobs, no schools, minimal services in these communities, but somehow we can afford to offer tax breaks to try and attempt to get people to live there anyway?

April 11, 2011 at 11:15 a.m. ( | suggest removal )