In response to Peter Gallanter's letter of Aug. 23, I sympathize with his problems working in the private sector. My husband did the same for over 35 years and it was only because of this that our family could afford to live in Port. My husband worked very hard, but so did I. As a retired Port Washington teacher (28 years in the system), I want to correct a few misconceptions in Mr. Gallanter's letter.
First, Mr. Gallanter said that many teachers in the district earn $100,000 or close to it. Only teachers with 25 years of service and Ph.D. degrees earn close to six figures and that is the very top of the scale. Teachers may choose to augment their salaries by coaching or supervising clubs after school hours. Even with these additions, the most highly experienced teachers earn salaries comparable to many new graduates from MBA programs.
Second, Mr. Gallanter wrote that the community showed teacher support by passing the bond and budget. I believe that most voters back these initiatives primarily because of the positive effects they have on our children and our property values, and only indirectly as a show of support for our teachers. While improved working conditions for teachers may be a by-product of the bond, its purpose is to eliminate overcrowding that threatens the quality of education in Port Washington. It also provides for updated technology, bringing our schools into the new century. And while voting for the budget can show support for our teachers, it can alternately show support for programs, curriculum or administration.
Third, Mr. Gallanter implies that teachers work 20 hours a week. Frequently, they put in 60 hour weeks, what with planning, supervisory duties, correcting papers, meeting with students, parents, co-workers and administrators.
Fourth, although teachers do have the summer off, many work to supplement their salaries. Often their work is in the private sector where they make much more money. Still they choose to teach because for many of them it is a calling.
As for his having to ride on a hot subway in 100 degree weather, there are several weeks in June and September where students and teachers work in intense heat all day, in classrooms that are not air conditioned. Ironically, school offices are air conditioned.
Mr. Gallanter should be valued appropriately for the work he does, and so should the teachers of Port Washington. Teaching is a job of great intensity and responsibility. A negotiated settlement before school begins is an important way of telling teachers that they are valued. I can honestly say that in the long history of NY State teacher-community relations, educators never get consideration by remaining silent.
Ellen G. Zimmerman