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Letter: Mr. Boyum, you try to be a teacher
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    This letter is to Phil Boyum in response to his article, “Do Teachers Really Need a Raise?” printed on Friday, February 22, 2008.  After reading the article, I too went to to look up various degree requirements and salaries.  According to one chart, the 2003 median income for a four year (bachelor) degree was $43,000 . . .a beginning salary.  That is not the case for a beginning teacher with a four year degree.  Mr. Boyum, if you will go to the Georgia Department of Education website and click on “Teacher Salaries” you will find that in 2008 a beginning teacher with a four year degree starts at a little over $30,000.  It takes several years of experience along with advanced degrees to come close to reaching the same pay scale as other professionals.  
    What about the amount of time teachers actually put into their careers?  Please walk with me while I take you through a typical week in the life of an educator.  The workday begins at 7:15 a.m. at the local elementary schools.  Many children are already on campus by that time, so the day actually begins then.  Greet each child by name.  Take attendance.  Collect any money for ice cream sales, fundraisers, lunch, etc., complete the money collections sheet, and walk the money to the office (you cannot send it by a child).  Oh, wait, you have to stay in the classroom to supervise the children, so do it during your planning period (if you get one).  
    Doctor the headaches, sneezes, coughs; referee the arguments and fights; comfort the child whose parent is incarcerated; dig around for a jacket for the child who does not have one; differentiate the lessons for the highly intelligent learners in your room so they will not become bored; modify the lessons for the special learners in your room so they can learn; do not forget about the middle of the road learners; complete all paper work for the office and board office; respond to all notes and phone calls from parents (not during school, of course, but at home); correlate all your lessons to match the standards established by the Georgia Department of Education; keep records of each lesson taught, the enrichment and modified activities provided for all learners; provide hands on activities for each lesson; entertain the children during recess when they cannot go outside due to inclement weather; grade all papers so you will have enough grades for each child in each subject for each nine weeks grading period; take care of progress reports and report cards every 4 _ weeks; attend the meetings (faculty, textbook adoption, leadership, school council, discipline, strategic planning, fundraising, . . . forget it, there are too many to list!); conduct parent conferences; conduct special education meetings and conferences; and there are many other responsibilities I do not have the time or space to list.  Okay, this is BEFORE you go home.  Once you go home, you still have mounds of paper work, phone calls, lesson plans, curriculum mapping, collecting materials for hands on activities . . . remember to squeeze in a little time for your own children and spouse.  Weekends?  That is the time for making copies, right?  Cleaning up the classroom?  Getting everything ready for the next week?  Do not forget about the class or classes at night to complete the advanced degree or certification needed before your certificate expires.  
    (This may come as a surprise to you, Mr. Boyum, but not all continuing education is completed during the summer weeks.  Many teachers use that time to take on a second or part time job to supplement their income.)
    I have a proposition for you.  Take time to visit some of the local schools, go to the teachers’ workrooms, and spend time visiting and talking with the teachers.  Get to know them, their passions and trials.  Better yet, take the required classes to become a substitute teacher and work in the classrooms.  
    Find out first hand what educators actually go through in the line of duty, and if you have anything left in you, perhaps then you will be prepared to write another article.  I dare you.  
    I double dog dare you.
Julie H. Lumpkin
21 year teaching veteran
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