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Educator: Everyone takes shots at teachers
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Editor, Manteca Bulletin,

Regarding Wednesday’s column about the third grade teacher assigning her students a writing assignment criticizing budget cuts: You’re absolutely right.

That assignment was wholly inappropriate, if not because they were third-graders, because at least they were coached by the teacher in some form. Very unprofessional on the teacher’s part.

What concerned me about your column, however, were some of the other points you made. First, of course, is teacher pensions. I would be more comfortable with this constant attack on our pensions if any of these critics would be consistent.

For example, most public nurses, firefighters, police officers, game wardens and such have a significantly-higher pension payout than us. Over-simplifying it, a teacher with 30 years may hope to take a pension at roughly 60 percent of their salary, whereas most other public employees would make 90 percent or their salary in pension.

Don’t get me wrong, I think they deserve it. And I’m honestly not complaining about our pension plan. Teachers pay heavily each month into the State Teachers Retirement System (STRS), and it has consistently been one of the most stable public pension plans in the country, far better than most public and even private pension plans.

Yet everyone takes their shots at teachers, but few other public servants. I’m tired of apologizing for the benefits I’ve worked for. I have not complained about our salary cuts, or our increased health care costs, because the rest of our society has taken the same. I was also amazed that Wisconsin teachers have been complaining about the same financial deal that California teachers have been paying for years.

But people like Wyatt and others are taking shots at me and not the muni-driver who is taking home almost 100 percent in their pension.

And finally, a comment about teaching inP Quonset huts with no air conditioning. I’ve taught in portables, regular classrooms, and for a little while, an auditorium. I’ve never complained.

But Wyatt makes the argument that kids learned without air conditioning before. OK, Dennis, when you were writing that column, were you in the Bulletin newsroom? Because last time I was in there it was pretty well air-conditioned. If you truly believed what you said, turn off all of the Bulletin’s climate control until October. Then I’ll believe you.

Let me know how it works out.

Dennis Fleming
June 8, 2010