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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

November 14, 2008 at 4:35 PM


College is not the answer

Education is a wonderful thing. It makes people more intelligent, cultured, cosmopolitan and liberal [“Gates Foundation turns attention to higher education,” page one, Nov. 12]. It is not, however, an economic panacea. Only a minority of jobs in our economy require a college education. Having more educated people chasing those jobs will only serve to drive down their pay, which might be part of Bill Gates’s plan. If he can hire cheap workers here, he won’t have to get them in India.

The most reliable way to improve the economic condition of the non-college-educated is to raise minimum wages, encourage unionization and improve social services like public health care, child care and transportation. That’s what they do in the civilized countries of “old” Europe, which have substantially less poverty and inequality than we do.

— Chris Nielsen, Shoreline

State teacher salaries:

apples to oranges

The story “Teacher Pay competitive in many parts of the State” [News, Nov. 11] stated that by comparing wages of other professionals for a 10-month period with wages of teachers who work 10 months, one has an “apple-to-apple” comparison.

The problem with this comparison is that teachers work much longer than 40 hours a week. We have to be at school for 40 hours, but every teacher spends many hours after school preparing lessons, correcting homework and reading essays.

I am now retired, but I worked an average of 70 hours per week. During the summer I took continued-education classes to keep my certificate valid. Most people who work overtime get paid overtime — not teachers.

If one wants to compare “apples to apples,” the hours worked should become the base, not the months worked. Besides working more than 40 hours and having to take education classes during the summer, a teacher has to deal with 150 students every day. That also needs to be placed into the equation.

— James Behrend, Bainbridge Island

Get it right

An error in The Times report on teacher salaries in Washington causes me to question its credibility and usefulness.

Teacher-librarians are not only certified teachers who instruct students, but are usually among the most educated teachers on any given campus, having often taught several years in the classroom before obtaining a specialized endorsement in library and information/media sciences. Thus, a teacher-librarian’s salary comes from the same salary scale as other teachers (not as classified staff) and is based on number of years served and educational level.

Most public school districts in Washington employ at least one full-time teacher-librarian per school site.

The article’s assumptions about teacher-librarians make the veracity of the remaining report highly suspect.

— Lisa Carlson, Des Moines

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