Letter: Teachers teach, buildings don’t
School districts all over the nation — wake up. And the Roaring Fork School District RE-1 is on the top of my list. From where I stand, none of you have a clue concerning the value of your best asset — your teachers.
Teachers teach, buildings don’t, and high technology investment is fairly cheap. Buildings are not. In order to attract and keep good “qualified” teachers, you need to pay them salaries that are equivalent to where they live.
Great men and women in history (Abe Lincoln and Einstein come to mind) were not educated in elaborate buildings, but I guarantee that they had influential teachers in their younger years that made a significant difference in the lives.
I recently saw a television special on teachers salaries in the San Francisco Bay area where the average one-bedroom rental had climbed to $4,800 a month. Many of the San Francisco teachers were resorting to either camping or even sleeping in their cars and, eventually, left the area. Arizona rentals were upwards of $2,800 a month.
Yes, we indeed have a crisis, but not paying “qualified” teachers what they need to compete for housing is not the answer. Sure, it’s nice to be in a new school building, but what good is it if you can’t get a proper education because you can’t maintain excellent teachers.
Take the Roaring Fork School District RE-1 as an example. In the past 15 years, they passed two school bond issues — each over $100 million in order — in most cases, to either renovate or replace school buildings. They even built a middle school between Glenwood Springs and Carbondale before they had the students to fill it. Most recently, I read that they want to spend over $1 million to buy land in El Jebel for a future school building.
From what I have observed during this entire period, teachers have not financially benefited from these property tax increases. In fact, some teachers even lost their jobs. I also don’t believe in teacher housing; pay the teachers a salary so that they can afford to live here. I assure you, no one ever offered me housing when I first moved here in 1975.
A final note to all of you teachers — I totally support you and your need for salary increases equivalent to the going rate in the area where you choose to live, but please teach the kids to think on their own. Do not try to mold them according to any of your political fancies. Be realistic, their futures are in your hands and they depend on you for guidance.