We should value our teachers more
In May 1965, my wife, Marsha, and I were married. She had just graduated from Florida State University with a teaching degree and I from the University of Florida with a B.S. in business administration. In our first full year of adult life she taught fifth-graders in Jacksonville and I sold copiers for Xerox Corp.
She earned $3,000 and I earned $8,400. We are both retired now, but for most of our working lives she never came close to being paid as well as I was.
The fifth-graders she taught in Jacksonville are now in their 50s. Marsha was amazed and excited a few weeks ago when she was contacted by one member of her very first class. He told her of his life and what it had meant for him to be in her classroom.
He and his classmates grew up, got jobs, raised families, paid taxes and in some cases have even become grandparents. Who can possibly imagine what they have contributed to our society?
The copiers I sold have been in landfills for decades. Can you see something wrong with this picture? Can a society that pays a copier salesman 21/2 times as much as it pays those who nurture our young have its values placed correctly?
There is no possible way to devalue the importance of free, vibrant commerce in the development of our country. However, it is very hard for me to believe we are not in the mess we are in now because we have not valued our teachers more.
I have lived with a dedicated teacher for 45 years and we have raised another one. I know both our professional worlds well. We should be ashamed of what we are allowing our elected representatives to do to the people who hold the future of our country in their hands. We should just be ashamed.
Kyle Quattlebaum, Clearwater
Senate Bill 6
Teacher bill takes education in the wrong direction
I am a new teacher and coach in Pasco County. I've been employed with Pasco County schools for two years. I actually believe a performance pay system can work and be beneficial to all involved. However, I want to know how it's going to work first. These evaluations for student growth haven't even been created yet. How can you pass a bill not knowing how you're going to implement it?
Next, the idea that teacher salaries won't be cut due to this bill is incorrect. The bill never directly states that teacher salaries will be cut, but it does say that 5 percent of each district's budget must be set aside to cover the cost of this bill.
Here is the problem: The Pasco County School District must already cut between $25 million and $52 million from its budget. Add another 5 percent if this bill passes. Where is that money going to coming from? Let's be honest. There is a strong possibility it will come from teacher salaries and benefits. So indirectly this bill will likely cost teachers a pay cut. We have a long way to go in this state as far as education is concerned. Let's make sure our first step is in the right direction.
David Broughton, New Port Richey
As a recently retired educator with a Ph.D. in English, I have seen very little validation for standardized testing to determine what a student has learned. I would prefer to be judged on the basis of whether or not I had taught my students to think rather than on what I had taught them to think. When we attempt to teach students what to think, we are helping them to memorize and regurgitate rather than teaching them the whys of what we are asking them to memorize. This may be minimally acceptable in subjects such as basic math, basic grammar and punctuation, spelling and vocabulary, but it is unforgiveable when it attempts to reach beyond the necessities of common communication and other building blocks to thinking. The standardized tests I have seen put both students and teachers into a straightjacket prepared not by educators but by politicians and governments.
No one argues against getting rid of lazy and ineffective instructors. This bill, if it becomes law, will not do that. What the law would do is teach more teachers that their value lies in teaching their charges what to think rather than how to think. It will create more lazy, ineffective teachers, not fewer. It will send our best educators fleeing to more progressive states or other professions and discourage our best prospects from entering the ranks of Florida teachers.
Let's find a better way of getting rid of poor educators.
Michael Kasum, Gulfport
Approve the legislation, we can fix it later April 13, letter
Shifting the trouble
I have more than 15 years of classroom experience as a technical instructor with a major telecommunications company. My wife is a PMP (project management professional). So it was with more than a modicum of amazement and amusement that I read the writer's suggestion to take disruptive students out of one classroom and place them, and possibly many others like them, in another class that they don't want to be in. That is a dandy solution: Pawn off your problem children on another teacher. I didn't have that option when I was teaching, something that my fellow instructors were grateful for, I am sure.
To compare classroom instruction with being a project engineer, manager and director is ludicrous. As my wife has pointed out, some projects go well and some don't, and yes your raises and bonuses are dependent upon your performance. The key word here is "your" performance, not the performance of a person who doesn't want to learn or is incapable of grasping course material. I have had both types in my classes over the years.
On the issue of health care twice mentioned, I am supposing that the writer is not one of the 30 million uninsured in this country or one with a pre-existing condition.
Jon L. Rector, Tampa
Senate Bill 6
It's not conservative
It boggles the mind that Florida's Republican Party is pushing for enactment of Senate Bill 6, the so-called teacher bill.
The basic tenet of conservatism is that the government which governs least governs best. Big Government in Tallahassee reaching into little Johnny and Suzy's classroom to set local policy in our neighborhood schools can only be construed as the antithesis of conservative ideals.
What has happened to the Republican Party of Florida? It has been said that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Witness the credit card debacle, the former speaker of the House's airplane hangar deal, and the party's thirst for streams of barely regulated special interest monies, to name just a few problems, and one must wonder how deeply the rot goes within this party.
The abandonment of conservative principles evidenced in SB 6 is just the latest example.
Robin George Yates, Bayonet Point