City Life: Teachers deserve our respect [Corrected]

January 11, 2012|By Steve Smith

You will never hear a teacher say, "I made a killing this year."

Teachers don't teach to get rich.

In the Jan. 11 column,“City Life: Teachers deserve all our respect,” the second sentence in the second to last paragraph should have said, “In her capacity as the immediate past president of the California School Boards Assn., Fluor is in a position to move the CSBA toward online seminars and workshops instead of expensive live meetings.”

Let's be clear, though: Put in enough time as a teacher in many states and the career can often provide a good life. No riches, but a comfortable living that is extremely fulfilling, which most people cannot say about the work they do.

In exchange for compensation that is low relative to the importance of the work they do, teachers ask primarily for one thing: respect.


They want us to acknowledge their importance and to be treated accordingly. It's not much to ask.

And it's not just me talking — that was the conclusion of recent studies by the MetLife Survey of the American Teacher and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

At the Dec. 13 Newport-Mesa Unified school board meeting, Trustee Martha Fluor made a point of mentioning that compensation for the teachers in our district is the second-highest in the county.

But Fluor left out an important bit of history and by doing so, she made it sound as though the school board had showered our teachers with dollars out of the respect they deserve.

The truth is that in 2007, she and her then-colleagues offered teachers a pittance for a raise; the contract that finally gave teachers their current compensation was agreed to only after six months of contentious negotiations that included rumors of a planned walkout by some teachers at Corona del Mar High School.

Prior to the 2007 contract, our teachers were the lowest paid of any unified school district in the county.

That was a time when the board showed its true colors. After all its talk of teacher appreciation, when it came time to walk the walk, the school board was crippled. Now we have Fluor trying to take credit for something she and other board members of that era had to be convinced to do.

The teachers who were in the district at the time know the history, but only a few of them know that Fluor tried to rewrite it last month. So, I'm letting the rest of them know today.

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