Lance Scranton: Teachers: More than costs on a spreadsheet

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Lance Scranton

Local teachers made the news last week when a healthy representation appeared before the Moffat County School Board to seek common ground regarding the rising cost of medical insurance premiums.

Plenty of discussion is tossed around when costs associated with running a school district are being negotiated. Employees are compelled to seek worthy remuneration for their efforts while management attempts to find cost-cutting measures intended to “ease” expenses.

Some segments of society see teachers as people who can’t make it at a “real” job so they get into teaching. They work nine months of the year and have three months off every summer, go to work at 8 in the morning and are done by 3:30.

What a life – how much do they need to be compensated, anyway?

Others see educators as a group of people who make sacrifices to try and influence the future by teaching children.

These people know any teacher who arrives to work at 8 and leaves at 3:30 doesn’t last very long, and when they come and sit in a classroom and see the reality teachers face every day, they understand what drives the weakest of the profession out into the “real” world for a “real” job.

First-rate wage and benefits were designed into the school budget long ago in a spirit of attracting teachers and families to rural Moffat County to become a stable part of the community.

But, it seems as though there is a disconnect in our district between those who make budgetary decisions and those who, in good faith, teach children every day and have made a choice to live in Craig partly because of the salary and benefit package.

Some years ago, the school district adjusted administrative salaries upwards to attract and maintain excellent leaders. Some might think the same should happen for classroom teachers.

Teachers are increasingly seen as a cost on a spreadsheet to be solved by managing the numbers and finding solutions such as increasing (“adjusting”) premium rates.

Full disclosure: I do not take part in the district's medical insurance coverage for my family because of the expense.

Fourteen years ago I moved to Moffat County and the consensus among professionals I spoke with was that Moffat County teachers were taken care of and if I was a good teacher, I would find this a great place to settle down, raise a family and become part of a community.

I love this profession and hope to stay in Moffat County for the remainder of my career, but as education becomes more like a business, I’m not seen as a dedicated veteran as much as an expense and a less experienced (expensive) teacher might certainly “improve” the budgetary outlook.

Teachers who strive each day to make learning fun and effective, get kids engaged, deal with the emotions of children, and challenge the best and brightest students should have confidence that those in positions of leadership and oversight are looking out for them.

I hope this is what’s still happening in our district.

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Comments

George Robertson 2 years, 5 months ago

There is no job more important than teaching our children how to take care of our future! It is mind boggling to think that a baseball player or an actor makes MILLIONS, and teachers are expected to eke out a living on a comparitively meager salary.

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AlMoncrief 2 years, 5 months ago

TEACHERS: FIGHT FOR YOUR PENSION RIGHTS.

COLORADO PERA PENSION THEFT LAWSUIT SCHEDULE AND HOW TO HELP.

The group fighting the Colorado Legislature’s theft of contracted pension benefits (saveperacola.com) posted a Colorado Court of Appeals schedule on their website today (as follows):

“We have received notice of the following scheduled dates for the lawsuit: 4/23/12 – Appellees to Supplement Record 5/29/12 – Appellee’s Answering Brief 6/12/12 – Appellant’s Reply Brief

PERA and the State of Colorado are the appellees. Gary R. Justus et al are the appellants.”

Saveperacola also posted a request for help from Colorado PERA members, retirees and any others who support the rule of law in the United States. Saveperacola is raising funds for attorney fees to combat the theft of retirement benefits that were earned by PERA members over decades.

Are you a PERA member or retiree? Have you paid into PERA for many years? Do you expect the Colorado Legislature and Colorado PERA to honor their contractual obligations to you?

Well, your expectations are not grounded in reality.

It is pathetic, but the Colorado Legislature and Colorado PERA will not honor their legal commitments to you short of a court order. That has become quite clear during Colorado PERA’s political, legal and lobbying campaigns.

If Colorado PERA members and retirees do not act, our interests will be brushed aside.

The Colorado Legislature and Colorado PERA are trying to use the volatility of investment markets to justify their breach of contracts. Remember that Colorado PERA members and retirees are members of a defined benefit plan. They do not bear any “market risk.” In a defined benefit pension, “market risk” is borne by the sponsors of the plan, that is, the State of Colorado and Colorado local governments. The Colorado Legislature and Colorado PERA want to retroactively change the terms of our statutory pension contract.

Here’s a quote from the new post on the saveperaacola website:

“Remember, the bottom line here is that unless we prevail in this lawsuit, PERA is off the hook for keeping the promises it made to every member and retiree.”

What can you do? Go to the saveperacola.com website, click on the “Support” tab, and send them a contribution. Call or e-mail every PERA member and retiree you know and ask them send support. Call your public employee union representatives and ask them how they can stand idly by while the Colorado Legislature attempts to breach its contracts with public employees. Colleagues of our public sector union officials across the country are aggressively defending the pension rights of their union members. What has happened in Colorado is truly bizarre. To follow developments in the Colorado pension theft lawsuit sign up as a Friend of Save Pera Cola on Facebook.

Have your friends sign up as Friends of Save Pera Cola. Copy this post and e-mail it to PERA members and retirees you know.

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