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No cuts for teachers

Posted: March 27, 2009 11:31 p.m.
Updated: March 28, 2009 4:55 a.m.
In Steven Sturgeon's "A letter to Hart teachers" (Letters, March 15), he wrote: "The board encourages [teachers] to look past the current budget uncertainties and consider what [they] bring to the Hart District next year after we have defined our financial directions."

How about what teachers have already brought to the Hart district? We have a district API score of 804.

To whom can we attribute this success? Long after the school bell rings, it is the teachers who put in long hours because they are committed to helping students achieve.

This time is outside of their contractual day. To help put it into perspective, let me share a personal example.

I began teaching eight years ago, and the 25 students I had in each English class seemed daunting. Today, I teach 37 students in each class, even in Honors English. My salary has not increased; likewise, my responsibilities have not decreased.

California has the highest class size in the nation. Yet, I strive to give each student the attention he/she deserves. In the fall, I assigned the required number of essays, totaling 18 among five classes. That means I graded upwards of 3,000 essays last semester alone.

As you can imagine, these essays cannot all be graded during my one-hour prep period each day. I must instead use that precious hour to enter grades, return parent e-mails and phone calls, make copies, grade quizzes, prepare lessons, etc.

Since the hour goes by quickly, I take home essays to grade almost every night and spend a great deal of time planning lessons at home. Just ask my husband. I am not paid for work done at home or work completed on the weekends. And yet, I must use this time if I want my students to continue to achieve at high levels.

My colleagues do the same, spending hours producing the school newspaper and yearbook, for example. Sometimes they do not leave school until 10 at night. Teachers are dedicated. We sacrifice our time and the only compensation we receive is in seeing our students succeed.

Sturgeon insinuates that teachers should feel guilty for not willingly taking cuts. Why is the district proposing that the solution to this budget crisis is to cut my salary and benefits? Why aren't the cuts being made in other areas?

Teachers are the heart and soul of schools. Without teachers, programs do not run and students do not achieve.

Sturgeon wrote, "Our students demonstrate regularly that there are no limits to what they can accomplish when challenged to do so."

They have their teachers to thank for that.


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