I just read Top Hamilton County School Salaries for 2012 and, once again, I remembered the title of a good old cartoon book: "Well, there's your problem."
When the first 3/4 of the list of school system employees is not teachers, there's a real problem in the system. And even after that first well-paid teacher, there are precious few other teachers on the top salaries list.
Note that the first 'instructor' on the school salary list is a JROTC instructor--who makes 1/3 more than the top-paid teacher in Hamilton County. In fact, 16 JROTC personnel make more than the top-paid real teacher.
Surely I'm not the only one who remembers the old complaint, "Too many chiefs, not enough Indians!" And surely you don't have to be an accountant to realize where the school system's money is going; it isn't going for teachers, that's obvious.
This list ought to be required reading for every parent of a Hamilton County school student. Hand them the list, and point out all of those $90,000 salaries, right before the teacher has to ask them to send a box of Kleenex and other goodies to school with their kid because the schools can't afford such costly necessities.
Yeah, that oughta do it. Good grief. What's it gonna take to fix this problem?
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Hmmmmm....16 JROTC instructors out of how many staff overall? Perhaps I am misinformed, but I believe there are federal subsidies in place which absorb a good portion of the JROTC salaries, making them comparable to the teacher salaries listed - maybe less. And when they are teaching your child - they are very much real teachers.
While I agree that teacher salaries are truly lacking, I would hardly say that it is due to a handful of JROTC instructors at a handful of county schools. Or even the principals and assistants salaries. Our school funding problems run much deeper than that.
Leadership carries responsibility - shouldered largely by our principals and assistant principals. Find me any organization which runs without leadership - or better yet, someone who is willing to accept that role without the pay - and I think we would all be surprised. I sure would think twice before taking on the leadership of a school without being paid for it.
In the big scheme of things, I guess I don't have a problem sending a box of Kleenex or some extra supplies to school with my child. I would rather see their money go to provide salaries for the teachers, principals and yes, even JROTC (which teaches excellent life skills and discipline by the way).
The leadership, teachers and JROTC at my child's school are amazing. I am grateful every day that they are willing to step into the role they play in my child's life. All of them.
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Those hinges usually creak as we sneak up on the subject, but in this instance that door goes (BAM!) as Ms. Locke slams it open with her comment "(l)eadership carries responsibility."
Oh my goodness.
Full disclosure statement - there is no greater advocate for teachers, true educators, than me... not even JC Bowman. If JC disagrees we can easily settle the dispute. Road apples at 20 paces, dawn, on the morning of his choosing ought to work.
For starters, and perhaps I'm misinformed, but don't those "federal subsidies" used to shore up salaries for JROTC instructors come out of the pockets of working, tax paying, and sometimes voting citizens? If not, I would sincerely appreciate someone relieving my ignorance.
An "instructor" is still a teacher. In the case of JROTC instructors there is no teaching certificate required of those billets for retired military personnel. Why must their salaries be so much greater than those of regular teachers? This is in no way to besmirch the JROTC program or instructors, but we do have economies to be concerned with here.
"Leadership carries responsibility"... where to start on that.
Does leadership mean the principal of the worst high school in Hamilton County should be out playing golf instead of tending to business during the normal work week? And how about all those assistant principals at that school, or any school? With so many administrators, why should there be an additional need to have School Resource Officers, cops?
Does leadership mean hiding the fact there was a riot at a local school from the elected school board? How about the fact there was a school sponsored function being conducted after normal curfew that resulted in that riot? How about so-called chaperones, employeese of the school system, being off snorting wine while their charges, students, are getting stinky drunk on a class trip? The situation was certainly resolved, and punishment metted out, but the attitudes involved is the issue. And the employees still have jobs with the Hamilton County Department of Education? Leadership and responsibility... that's what we call it.
Does leadership mean accepting the word of a student, a student with a history of poor behavior, over that of a long time coach with an impeccable reputation? Does it include destroying that coach's career and demoting, as well as transferring, him? Does it include punishing an innocent working stiff like that coach while the student receives little or no negative consequences? That principal was ultimately demoted himself, but he still works for the system and has a nice, cushy salary... unlike the coach he ripped into.
Does leadership include purchasing new textbooks only to throw them in the dumpster as was discovered a couple of years ago behind one of our schools?
Does leadership include having schools, arguably supposed to be a safe place for everyone, where teachers and students are not safe? Does it include forcing our teachers to teach, our children and grandchildren to attend, with known criminals?
That's child abuse.
Does leadership include having several layers of administration, and the attendant beaucoupbucks salaries, when classrooms have such great needs?
Does leadership and responsibility include sending children home when a storm blows up so they're exposed to those hazards while toodling down the road in a school bus? I thought every school was supposed to be a storm shelter. Why do we take children out of a storm shelter, supposedly built to withstand a tornado, put them into a box running around on 6 or 8 hunks of rubber, and send them home where they're aren't nearly as safe and there might not even be an adult around?
But we pay big bucks for all that logic and reasoning ability, don't we.
Does responsibility include passing a child on to the next grade who doesn't meet the requirements of the present grade level? How about a child who cannot, or can barely, read? If one cares to go to the Tennessee Department of Education's web site and review the requirements for each grade level, um, those babies look pretty comprehensive. Do all of our students meet them before being passed on to the next grade level or do some, accent on some, teachers pass their problems up the line for someone else to deal with?
Every elementary school in Hamilton County has a library, and a librarian, sometimes with library assistants. Is it responsible not to even have a library at Sequoyah High School, an accredited high school?
It's easy to quote Cuba Gooding, Jr.'s character in the movie Jerry McGuire... show me the money. But we citizens and tax payers have done that. Where's the beef for those bucks? Teachers not being paid well? The average Hamilton County per capita income in 2010 was $25,445. How does that stack up with teachers' salaries? Pretty well, I think. It's easy to say that teachers, in fact many occupational specialties, are paid much more in different areas, but the cost of living is also higher there. Does anyone ever include the value of benefit packages and job security into that mix? No.
Reality is such a drag...
Ask any teacher and one will discover the very children who never seem to have the basic necessities of class, the necessities those of us in the GeezerGang, the gang Mr. Cloud and I are both members of, are wearing those super el spiffo sneakers, spiffy jackets, and flipping Jeffersons around like vanilla wafers. What's wrong with this picture? No lunch money? Look at the shoes. No pencil? A box of those puppies costs less than a sody pop, or a McBurger, or a bag of potato chips.
But it's okay to turn around and ask responsible parents to ante up for Kleenex, pencils, paper, hand sanitizer, and all the other supplies on those lists... because they'll do it.
This is no indictment of Ms. Locke, but hers is exactly the attitude that's caused some of the problems we currently have in our schools. Waste at the administrative level is okay because those federal grants and private subsidies will fill in the gaps, forgetting from whence all those bucks originate.
Walk into Dr. Taylor's office with two dogs, walk back out with two dogs and a puppy. I still say that cute little vet tech took advantage of an old man who can't resist a pretty girl's smile...
Royce Burrage, Jr.
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The school system has the largest portion of the county budget and apparently is sorely misused.
We pay taxes to support the school system and in return we get letters from the schools requesting (begging) for money to “beatify” the schools. Oh and the school supply list that never seems to be what an individual student needs but instead it’s what the classroom needs. Then there are the students who show up each and every year without any supplies at all.
Let’s not forget about the illegal immigrants who are also being educated in our system for free who contribute nothing to the financial upkeep of the school system.
Then there are the teachers who have worked in the system over 20 years and make less than $50,000 a year and spend their own money to supply their classrooms with what they need.
What exactly is it that our tax dollars go for? Until they deal with the real problems in the system I will not give or pay a single extra dime to the school system.