Tuesday, February 22, 2011

An Open Letter to Public School Teachers

I seriously wish I could take credit for this, but I can't.
I would like to introduce myself. I am Liz Nameth and I pay your wages.

First off, I do understand your plight. Far more than you realize. It really sucks that the economy took a nosedive. Believe me. I know. Ten years ago I worked in management. Today I work as a bank teller. Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful I have a job. I know too many people who don’t. But, the reality is that my wages have been cut in half. To compound the problem, my husband’s business has also declined by half. To say our finances have been devastated is an understatement.

We own three cars – one with a bad engine, another with over 200,000 miles which needs work and a third with 140,000 miles which needs work. I am thankful we have transportation. A lot of people don’t.

Our house needs a lot of work as well. Our windows are ancient and don’t hold the heat well. Our bedroom roof leaks on our bed. I am thankful we have a home. A lot of people don’t.

In the last three years, we have been able to afford to go camping once. My children don’t get Christmas or birthday presents because we can’t afford it. We struggle to make $200 feed all three of us for a month. We eat a lot of canned tuna. I am thankful to have food. A lot of people don’t.

Throughout all of this, I have continued to get up and go to work every day. I have continued to laugh and love and live. I am thankful for the abundant life I have – a husband who loves me, children who love me, a roof over my head, clothes to wear and food to eat. Compared to 90% of the world, I am wealthy beyond measure.

What does this have to do with your dilemma?

I read recently that the benefits package paid to employees in our local school district cost $20,400 per year per employee. I did the math on this. Using the highest income tax bracket of 7.75% in Wisconsin, someone in the private sector needs to earn $263,000 per year just to pay the benefits for one employee. Put another way, in my town, those benefits are covered by twenty average homeowners’ property taxes.

This has not even started to pay for the building or your wages or books or anything else needed to teach our children. This is just the benefits for the lunch lady. Is this sustainable? I don’t think so.

Don’t get me wrong. I have a lot of respect for what you do. I agree you deserve to be very well compensated. But you know what? We can’t afford it anymore. What we deserve and what we can afford don’t always line up. It sucks, I know. But that is reality.
I STRONGLY encourage you to read the rest here.
Ms. Nameth - I applaud you.

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