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Talkback: What readers say about …

… Letter: Teachers have
a pretty good gig

Bless his heart. He thinks we have a union? He thinks the average teacher makes $51,000? He thinks we don’t work weekends and holidays? He thinks we work less than your typical 9-5 Joe? Sounds like somebody needs to do some research.

Shadow a teacher for a day (or better yet, at least a week). Volunteer in a classroom. Watch a class so the teacher can go pee.

He can get up with us at 5 a.m. the first Saturday in January to take five busloads of kids to all-district band auditions, listen to flute sight-reading, then get back at 9 p.m. just to wait around until after 10 p.m. because some kid’s parents didn’t bother to come pick him up.

— Patti Knauf

How many years do public school teachers have to work before they are eligible for retirement and what is their retirement package? Not an argument here; just curious.

— Layne Phelps

A valid question actually. The state of North Carolina has a weighted retirement system, meaning the older you are when you start, the fewer years you need. It’s very complex but basically a young person would need 30 years of service to collect a full pension (50 percent). A person reaching 60 years of age would only need 20 years of service and so on.

It is worth noting North Carolina no longer offers this pension plan to new teachers, which makes your question even more relevant.

— Bill Sorenson

 Teachers are answering parents’ emails, prepping for the following day and in some cases they’re tutoring kids after school.

One such great example is Ms. Schultz at Knox Middle. She teaches AIG math, and in preparation for EOGs, she has been tutoring our kids for the past three to four weeks Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., and then on Saturday and Sunday too. On Monday she’s been one of the leads for after-school STEM Club from 2:45 p.m. to 4 p.m. School starts at 7:30 a.m., so teachers get there around 7 a.m.

If it was up to me, these teachers would get a huge raise.

— Jaana Gilbert

I’m all for better pay and working conditions for teachers and preachers. One helps save our children from illiteracy and the other helps save their souls. What’s more important in this world?

— Narrie Corl

I am not a teacher. I also am not a reasercher or a journalist. … After reading this article I did a little research on my own (as we all should). I find your opinion to be completely invalid. Your facts are way off.  I really wanted to rail on you for this, but instead I will ask you, sir, please do more research.

… You did not mention anything about the fact that schools have unfilled positions because there aren’t enough qualified people to fill them. According to you, people should be beating down the door to get at such a gravy job. 

— Layne Phelps

A free education market — where the best services are rewarded with the best pay — would solve this whole problem overnight.

Anyone dissatisfied with his compensation could hire on with the school willing to pay the best prices for the best performance.

Which would quickly reveal who are the best educators, (as well as the worst).

Probably an idea whose time has come.

— J.R. Neumiller

Let’s remember — teacher working conditions are our children’s learning conditions. When teachers point out that they don’t have the funds to do their jobs, that directly impacts the generation of students in N.C. classrooms.

Just a side note: Other workers don’t have to work “without a peep.” They can have legal union protections and collective bargaining. Teachers legally do not, despite the fact that even the bus drivers in my school district are Teamsters and have representation that way.

— Sarah McCoin

 I am finishing my 19th year of employment and I want to clarify some facts with you.

I am not sure where you got your “average” teacher pay statistic from but I hold a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree and National Board Certification and have not made it to $50,000 yet.

I would like to hear statistics from your area of employment as to what the average pay is for someone with two college degrees and a national certification in that field with 19 years experience. I am still paying off my degrees after 19 years.

— Pauline Ross

We are the proud parents of a teacher in the Rowan-Salisbury school system. … I certainly don’t want to appear ignorant .. as I am not college-educated (just business school after high school). But my husband and I spent around$80,000 to $100,000 educating our daughter so she could get a cushy job being a teacher.

We also contribute to my daughter’s classroom due to low funding. I even purchased every child in her classroom recently a book from the book fair. …

Also, they may not work holidays, but there are teachers that purchase Christmas gifts for children who would not otherwise have Christmas.

Get your facts straight.

— Doug and Debbie Suggs

Did you know that if it was up to the state to provide what teachers need, we would have little to nothing in our classrooms. There would not be a variety of books on the shelves for children to read. The walls wouldn’t be covered with bright cheerful paper or paint for that matter. There would be no additional furniture for kids to enjoy. There would not be an abundance of supplies. Teachers use their paychecks to pay for these things so our students can come to school and enjoy it. School for a lot of students is their only safe haven. It is safe to say my classroom has cost me around $15,000.00 over the last nine years and I still have a long time left in education so you do the math.

… Teaching is a calling and a passion for many. We know going into it that we won’t make the money we deserve, but our children deserve better than the state of North Carolina is giving them.

— Stacy Frick

See, this letter proves the point that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

First of all, North Carolina teachers work 215 days per year. And in those days we work more hours than someone who works a 40-hour per week job with a two-week vacation. …

Please tell me what other profession that you have to pay out of your pocket in order to be able to do your job? What other job? Please tell me.

We teachers are dedicated. We love teaching. We love our students. We have meetings, PTA, open houses, etc., past our contracted time. We are not paid for it. We just show up.

You see, that is what you are missing. We show up for kids who have never had someone show up for them.

So your words about us having it good, well, that is true. We do get to touch lives of future astronauts, lawyers, policy-makers and maybe even a president. You don’t. That might explain your attitude. But please do not ever think that we should be quiet and stop advocating because you have read somewhere that unions are the problem. We do not have a union. Repeat: There is no teachers union in North Carolina.

Teachers deserve to make a living wage and have what they need to do their jobs. Period.

— Jeanne Ambrose

I am a teacher and I can tell you firsthand that I buy my own supplies, feed my students, clothe my students, counsel my students. Teaching in this county is much more than a full-time job.

I know that I am the closest thing to a mother that a lot of my students have, and as a mother, I will provide for them. I will love them, teach them, care for them, listen to them and try to fulfill as many of their needs that I can.

It is a very difficult and exhausting job, but without us, these kids have nothing. I will continue to do what I do for the love of these kids — because they need it and deserve it — but it would be great if our government truly opened their eyes to the realities of the teaching profession in North Carolina and showed us some respect in the form of higher wages.

— Ann Marie Bourque

… After checking off items on his bucket list, Bentley the dog’s battle comes
to an end

I’ve never witnessed a human care as much for any animal in my entire life. Bentley was truly loved, and Jacqueline has lost more than a pet. Bentley was family

— Mark Young

… Kathy Vestal: Race is not council’s primary divider

When listening to the discussion on this issue by the council, I, too, thought the council members were respectful of one another. However, I did feel as if the mayor prolonged the discussion unnecessarily.

I never once saw race as an issue. I was utterly shocked when the first speaker stated it was about race. …

Mayor Heggins is now in a tough spot, but also has an opportunity to show leadership and bring healing to Salisbury.

— Ron Scruggs

But many people did (see race as the primary divider). Especially people of color present in the space. I suggest researching the myriad ways racial microaggressions show up in interpersonal connection. Honestly, we (people of color) are used to being told by whites what is or what is not racist. I’m amazed that you have missed the several racialized inferences in their exchange in this meeting. …

Racism is less about “division” and more about unjust treatment of people of color.

— Anthony Smith

Many years ago, as chairman of a church committee, I told a story to get a point across and to elicit new ideas from them.

A small girl watched her mother chop off the end of a ham before placing it in the pan. Curious, the child asked why she did that. Pondering for a moment, the mother replied, “That’s how my mom does it. Ask her.”

So she did. Grandma responded as mom had and told the child to ask Great-Grandma the reason for doing so.

Determined now, the child asked Great-Grandma, who replied, “So it would fit in my pan.”

— Edith Julian

We are all created in God’s image, regardless of our superficial differences.

I did not see the council meeting. But if there was division, I believe this historically diverse City Council is capable of working toward healing, to move forward with what is best for their constituents.

— Jeff Morris

Local elected officials in North Carolina can chose not to seek reimbursement for individual expenses incurred during their official duties, but they do not have the authority to deny a fellow member said reimbursement.

State law entitles reimbursement and local boards do not have the authority to override state law.

— Doug Paris

… Accusations of racism emerge at Salisbury City Council

I suggest the whole City Council and Salisbury, N.C., citizens attend the (event in) Salisbury, England, via Skype or Facebook Live or Go To Meeting. Have our public library host the event remotely.

This way all of the town can experience the event and spend none of my tax money. … No value added to our town with one individual visiting in person.

— Phyllis Bodnar

This has nothing to do with race. It has everything to do with transparency and accountability of expenditure of tax dollars. I appreciate council members looking out/having checks and balances on this and questioning the process.

… I find it interesting that Heggins wants to travel to Salisbury, England, for her mayoral duties when she has yet to visit her council-appointed boards and commissions that serve monthly right here in Salisbury, North Carolina, in her eight-month tenure as mayor.

— Shelly Palmer

Why does everything have to involve some party being “abused” by another? Not everything has to do with racism, etc.

— Carol Carpenter

However would you know? Have you ever walked in black skin? … I, too, am white and privileged because I can do virtually anything without being a product of suspicion because of my skin color.

So, yes, if you are a racial minority in this country, it is all about racism and what you are expected to do to “overcome” it. Would you like to “overcome” your whiteness? …

(I)f your heart is open, please take some time to talk, and really listen, to your black acquaintances. Perhaps, you will see that your thoughts are such because you see through a white lens.

— Whitney Peckman

Shame, shame, shame on the council members for their words, body language, nonverbal support and accusations last night. The central message from council members: You shouldn’t serve your community unless you have the money to serve.

— Renee Wimpish

I recommend that the city set a total travel budget for the year, with rules on what trips are allowed and by whom. Also, they could establish a policy where all trips costing over a set amount, say $1,000, must be individually approved by council.

This does not have to devolve into personal attacks at all; as Mr. Post stated, there just needs to be a system of checks and balances in place with known rules.

— Doug Sokolowski

I reject “pay-to-play.” Expecting City Council members to pay their own way when traveling for official city business is unfair, unwise and exclusive.

Our longstanding relationship with our Sister City in England is so beneficial that previous councils have spent thousands of taxpayer dollars on dinners and gifts while hosting our sister city guests. They did it because this relationship is important — it benefits our city civically, culturally and commercially.

The habit of previous (wealthy) mayors to pay their way to England is not policy. It is preference. And insinuating that it should be policy sets a dangerous precedent: that only those who can pay, can play.

— Emily Ford

Until the city of Salisbury, N.C., can afford to erect a billboard on I-85 stating, “Salisbury, NC: Voted Top 10 Safest City in North Carolina,” then divert all of the “fluff” expenditures to maintaining a qualified law enforcement presence in the city.

A safe city sells itself.

— Kathryn Jolly

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