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Web letter by Ryann Hill: Washington state education critic not telling the whole story

I recently read a Facebook status from Washington state representative Liz Pike addressing educators. I was appalled by how much someone who is a part of making decisions on education and funding had a lack of understanding of educators and teachers unions.

I do not get paid holidays, spring break and summer vacations. I am on a salary where I make a certain amount for an entire year. I chose the breakdown of my paychecks on a 26-week pay period (not 20 weeks) so therefore I make less through the school year so I can still receive a paycheck in the summer (all in my contract).

I am very passionate about my career. Teaching is a calling, not something that I decided to do because I felt like it was easy or a big moneymaker. Anyone who says I am going into teaching so I can make a lot of money will be in for a rude awakening (those people usually don’t make it past the first year anyways).

Teachers are not money hungry, lazy or in it for the “vacations.” My “generous” pension is constantly under the attack by the state. My health insurance out-of-pocket costs have risen over the time that I’ve worked in my current school district. I do not get “free health care benefits.” I too have to pay for my benefits like the private sector.

What Pike has failed to mention is that she is a state representative. She too has a generous pension courtesy of the state that I highly doubt is being scrutinized much like the “money-hungry teachers unions.” She is also being paid by tax dollars. I pay taxes just like each and everyone else. She has failed to mention that in her status update.

She has also failed to mention that legislators do not work an entire year, either. Once the session is over she too gets a wonderful summer vacation paid for by tax dollars.

There was also a bit on the radio recently about colleges being more selective in teachers’ programs. Obviously, the gentleman discussing this either did not go to college or talk to teachers because I had to pass Praxis exams and have a certain GPA before entering the teaching program. I also had to pass state boards, just like many other professions, to obtain my teaching license. I have to do continuing education every five years to renew and pay for my teaching license. Do state legislators take any exams before entering that profession?

Pike and all legislators need to realize that they too are receiving state benefits. I would like to see their daily objectives posted, daily snapshots on their effectiveness, actually answer and return phone calls to citizens (much like we do with parents). I want to see their evaluations with rankings from 1-4 on effectiveness. Are they deemed highly qualified to make important decisions that affect our careers and daily lives?

I am not saying a legislator has a cushy job by any means, but before legislators want to put the attack on the “unionized, money-hungry vultures” that we teachers are made out to be, all the facts need to be straight.