Tuesday, September 11, 2012

My Open Letter to our Local News Station - WGAL


Dear News Director,

I'm a public school teacher, and I just had the opportunity to watch Matt Belanger's piece on educators being paid for their sick days. I have to tell you that I am 100% offended by this piece, and I'm hopeful that there will be a follow up piece sharing teachers' perspectives.

I have seen many, many reports in papers, online, and on live newscasts claiming how unfair it is that teachers' benefits and retirement plans are paid by tax payers' money. I cannot ever remember seeing WGAL do a piece where they follow a teacher for a week or two and see the work that an individual actually does - before, during and after school hours. I cannot remember seeing WGAL do any reports on the fact that we teachers in Pennsylvania have NO choice but to be part of our retirement program. We are required to put a designated amount of money into PSERS and the schools are required to match it. While we have entered into this contract with no choice, you get a job you're signed up for PSERS, the state can freely take money FROM our retirement funds or not contribute their fair share. Imagine the uproar if you worked for a private business, had profit sharing, and the company just didn't put in their fair share even after making a profit.

To add even more insults to injuries laws are being proposed that will negate these contracts, even though they were established in Pennsylvania's Constitution. I could potentially lose all that I rightfully earned by doing my job for the last 15 years, and I had no choice but to deposit into this flawed system. Again, I ask what the uproar would be if banks or investment institutions were allowed to simply take that money out of private individuals' investment accounts? I imagine it would be great and those individuals would not be vilified as teachers have been. (Oh.... wait..... yeah....)

I get it - times are tough for everybody. EVERYBODY. Times are tough for teachers as well. It's time you stop choosing to make us "the bad guys" in this budget debate. Certainly there are some districts where unions have bargained outrageous contracts, but it's not all due to teachers. School board members (community members / tax payers) and district administration also have to approved that bargaining contract as well.

Perhaps it's time to take a closer look at the governor and state legislature and see how they have used (or misused) funds in the past to cause this funding debacle in the first place.

Next time you decide to run such a divisive piece, please, please think about the people on both sides and provide a fair and balanced report. Teachers are taxpayers, too, and we have spouses who have lost their jobs just like millions of others. Many teachers have lost their jobs just like millions of others. We are not the evil ones in this story. Please stop making it seem like we are.

Respectfully,
Becky Bair

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