Friday, January 18, 2008

Frenchie's Letter - A Guest Post

This evening I'm busy being all lovey and wifely so I give you a guest post in the form of a letter to the editor of a local Ohio newspaper written by my good friend Frenchie (gorgeous wife of my also very good friend Nature Boy). It's a response to nasty comments made and letters written during a teachers contract dispute, by parents and residents in the community where she teaches. Take it away Frenchie:

More or less, we were having a contract dispute over salary. We were in month #7 working off the old contract when I wrote this. We were holding out for more money for 2 reasons: a) we'd taken shitty salary increases in the two previous contract negotiations in 2005 and 2003; b) the school board had given the principals a really high salary increase in 2005 after giving us shitty ones (we got 2% the first year and 1% the second year, and they gave the principals 4% on top of all the other perks they already get that we don't).

We saw their crappy proposal as an issue of respect more than being about the money. Sadly enough, in the end they didn't budge and we ended up accepting their proposal, but I think it was just because they wore us down to the point where most of us didn't have any fight left in us.

I am a teacher.
I smile at your children when I see them everyday.
I listen to your children when they need to unload.
I listen to your children when they are brimming with excitement to tell me about their weekend.
I grade papers on the couch in the evenings while my four-year old works puzzles on the living room floor.
I loan your children lunch money when they forget theirs at home.
I supply endless Kleenex for runny noses.
I schedule make-up tests and extra help sessions before school and after school, and sometimes during my only lunch break.
I ask your children to exceed their own expectations.
I spend hours planning engaging lessons that keep heads from falling asleep on desktops.
I write my own tests and quizzes even though our textbook company sends us pre-written ones, because I feel theirs are substandard.
I have a homework completion raffle every week and I buy the prizes.
I buy my own materials if there’s not enough money left in the budget for them.
I call you at home if your child’s grades are slipping.
When the conversation sidetracks into what a wonderful child your teenager used to be, I listen and smile and don’t interrupt, even though it has nothing to do with the reason I’m calling.
I thank you for doing your best as a parent, because I know that we both want the best for your child.
None of this is in my contract.
My paycheck would remain the same if I did not do these things.
The majority of teachers I work with have a list this long or longer.
We love this community and we care about your children.
Please reciprocate by encouraging the Board of Education to end the standoff.
We’re not looking to get rich. We just want to feel appreciated.


Quiet one said...

I live in a town with a "good school district". Which means the kids have small class numbers, computer access, text books, etc. This is why most people move here. But many complain that the kids have too much homework and that they have to actually help their kids. They shouldn't have to do anything and think they know more than the teachers or the administration. They won't admit their kids have problems or that the teacher may have valid concerns or points. I'm not saying everything is perfect with the district, and I have some concerns, too, but I do know parents can be over-involved or not involved at all, not to mention the kids that are just not cooperative. I don't think you could pay me enough to ever handle all that, so yeah, I think teachers should at least get a decent salary!

Renaissance Woman said...

I also am an educator and believe that salaries are never enough. I live in Colorado and we as a state are on the lower end of salaries. I am an Assistant Principal and know that there is a believe that we make "great" money while everybody else suffers. My salary allows me to pay the bills and have a minor amount left over to cover a small crisis that may arise. All educators work too many hours doing work to help the youth become successful, happy and productive adults. I embrace your letter because people need to understand that all educators deserve a decent salary to do the good work with kids.

Anonymous said...

I think teachers are amazing. My kids have had some "average" teachers over the years ( screamers, yellers, unstable and too emotional) but then it is so easy as a parent to judge them, but I scream ,yell, act unstable and over emotional and I only have 3 children to look after. They have about 30!

So there we go - I think teachers should get a lot more than what they earn. Teachers and nurses.

Anonymous said...

I believe that teachers, the learned, should be higher on the salary chart than actors, athletes, and musicians. This backwards society has made the jesters more important than the educated. Never in history has this occured until just the past 75 years or so.

Johnny Yen said...

Whenever I hear someone complaining of teacher salaries, I do this little exercise with them. I ask them how much they pay their babysitters. It's usually something like five bucks an hour. I point out that if we were paid five bucks per hour per kid, we'd make over $150 bucks an hour. We're paid less than a fifth of that, and we're required to have a degree, have constant new training, be "mandated reporters" (we are required by law to rat out even the slightest suspicion of abuse, even outside of the classroom). I could go on, but you get the picture. I left the teaching profession because I was tired of being underpaid, underappreciated and having scared, incompetent administrators riding my ass constantly.

SkylersDad said...

Teachers should be among the highest paid professions. Please tell Frenchie thanks from us!

paperback reader said...

I like issues like this, where I understand how I feel about them. I can be pro-union, pro-teacher, and anti-the Man all at once.

Claire said...

Teachers in our district are among the best-paid in the country, but I still make more than most of them, and my job isn't as important. Any time someone complains about school taxes, I just wonder, do you need doctors? Lawyers? Engineers? OK, great...if teachers can't make a decent living, who's going to teach the future doctors, etc.? Thanks to Frenchie for all she does for her students. My son's teachers do the same everyday.

Ms. Laaw-yuhr said...

I second Pistols.

Also, this letter makes me think of this good scene from the West Wing when Rob Lowe said "schools should be palaces and the army should have to hold a bake sale to build a tank" or something along those lines.

Of course at that time we weren't in a senseless war where we sent our 118 year olds off in vehicles without sufficient armor.

Ms. Laaw-yuhr said...

Um, that was supposed to be 18 year olds (not 118 year olds).