It appears the Medford School District has a hidden agenda that goes beyond compensation for its teachers.
The School Board is trying to "reset" the baseline for the teacher's contract. The MEA is trying to maintain the status quo of a contract that has worked for teachers. The only real "new issue" the teachers want is a net, cost of living, salary increase. This is reasonable given teachers have had multiple cuts to pay/benefits in the past and the school district now has additional operating revenue.
The School Board should back off on demands for changes in health insurance cap, early retirement, teachers PERS contributions and prep time issues; just a few of the big issues. The board is trying to muscle through large changes to the contract in one negotiation cycle. All of these demands result in a smaller compensation package/greater workload for teachers. The board needs to look for ways to gradually phase in changes over 3-5 years that achieve their goals while protecting teacher compensation. The board's current approach throws teachers "under the bus" to "reset" the contract and now we have a strike! Common sense? The School Board has failed to support our kids and community! — William Rowan, Medford
As an elected official, it is your responsibility to represent the tax payers of this community. Sadly, it appears that the Medford School Board is now experiencing what is called "groupthink." As a body with much power, board members appear to be in a grudge match and not in negotiations to settle a contract.
Taking out full-page ads to make a case for the School Board and exacerbate the "us vs. them" atmosphere is foul play. Their antics are responsible for the contentious and stressful negotiations.
Their pranks are wasting taxpayers' time, money and causing stress for families across this valley. They are in a mental vacuum and their non-thinking is leading them to believe they are making a point by having students miss school, teachers miss work, and families scrambling for care for their children.
Stop playing this game, board members, that by making the teachers and families suffer, in the end you will look like the hero. We are demanding that the board negotiate in good faith and instead of spending our tax dollars to hire substitute teachers, use the money to pay our teachers, come to an agreement and stop the nonsense. — L. Olson, Medford
Thumbs down to Dominic Fontana for his rather hateful letter full of misinformation. He apes Phil Long's use of the phrase "typical teacher" when actually talking about those at the top of the pay scale, well-practiced professionals with decades of service and advanced degrees.
Thumbs up to Cherise Black — an actual typical teacher of seven years — for revealing her take-home pay of less than $3,000 per month. The proof is in the pay stub.
Thumbs down to 549C for claiming to save money by hiring subs. What they're not advertising is that students will only be getting half a day of instruction.
Another thumbs down to letter writer Gale Trapp for claiming the private sector doesn't pay what teachers are being offered. I know people at UPS (average wage and benefits of $110,000), Asante, and even McDonald's whose compensation is better. Finally, thumbs up to South basketball coach Dennis Murphy for standing with his colleagues.
The impasse in Medford is fundamentally about the disrespect America has for education, the educated, and educators. What message do we convey when we pay the guys who deliver our packages more than what we pay the people who teach our kids? — M. Lewis, Central Point
No agreement and no teacher raises for years equals poor district leadership.
Please change your performance for the sake of our children. There is always a way to proceed fairly. Replacement teachers are a total waste of money. — Ed Estes, Medford
On Feb. 8, Cherise Black, math teacher, asks for our sympathies as she only made $49,000 the previous year with a master's degree and experience. We all need to remember she only works nine months or three-fourths of the year.
If she worked at the same pay rate in a regular 12-month job she would make $65,317 a year or $31.40 an hour, which is a fairly average wage for people in business or health care with equivalent education and experience. Private-sector personnel also don't have anywhere near as many paid holidays, good retirement packages, etc.
I greatly respect teachers. Their job is hard, they put in many hours beyond those in the classroom. They handle a lot of responsibility. To me they demean themselves and their profession when they seek higher wages "because they care for the children." If they want to lobby for the children, lobby for issues that matter for the children, not for their pockets, like smaller classes or more support staff. — Barbara Kozol, Medford
To the writer who asks "What is wrong with this picture?":
Most people under age 45 have little concept of what has been lost in earnings over the last 30 years. Sen. Warren said, when she was a child, her mother, a recent widow, worked for minimum wage, which today would be $22 an hour. So, yes, teachers and most workers deserve a raise to close the income gap.
So, what is wrong is that the writer wishes to lower the standard of living of a fellow worker.
The top 1 percent must be chuckling as they read the letter (divide and conquer!) ... oh, wait, they don't read this newspaper. They read The Wall Street Journal.
I was a teacher, yet I do not want to lower that writer's income. In fact, I will celebrate their salary increase, if the powers that be deem they ever get one. — Myrl Bishop, Ashland
The Medford teacher strike should be rated PG for Pure Greed. They march and picket and carry signs that say all they want is to be back in the classrooms with their students. All the while the hang-ups in contract negotiations center around early retirement and health insurance, PERS and more money.
Let's see, early retirement plus PERS equals: come on, teachers, you can do this. It equals "I don't want to be in school teaching, I want to be paid big money never to go to school again." If the district were to give them everything they want, will they give the students a real education? They rank pretty low right now.
The teachers also say we should walk in their shoes. Maybe they should walk in our shoes. Try an hourly job. You don't work today you don't get paid today. You want off all summer to be with your family? You better look for another job. If your child is sick and you need to stay home to take care of them? Bummer. You don't get paid for that. How do those shoes fit now, teachers? — Ken Thompson, Eagle Point
In response to John Doty's guest opinion on Feb. 5, nobody is forcing him to strike. It's his choice. It's also the school district's choice to terminate his employment. In case of a strike, I say fire them all. Well said, Bobby Atkinson. — Russell Gillette, Jacksonville