Misconceptions On Teacher TimeMany thanks to Mike Burns...


June 20, 1993

Misconceptions On Teacher Time

Many thanks to Mike Burns for so clearly articulating the public misconceptions regarding the teacher profession and the recent controversy surrounding cuts in elementary teacher planning time. Hopefully, the newspaper reading public realizes that an editorial piece reflects opinion -- not fact.

Please allow us to tell you the facts. Elementary school teachers in Harford County work a minimum of 60 hours a week for 38 weeks to effectively implement ever-changing, forward-looking curriculums in reading, writing, math, science and social studies.

It doesn't take a math teacher to do the simple operations necessary to show that those hours, spread over a 50-week year (please allow us a two-week vacation) equal a 45-hour work week year-round. This does not count the summer hours worked by teachers. Requiring a longer work day or year for teachers is "laughable."

We are already giving the children that time and more. Taking away planning time is no way to ensure quality instruction. Special area classes may allow a maximum of 30 minutes daily for planning. How can that be enough time for planning six hours of quality instruction? Elementary teachers are not asking for time off. The half-days are work-intensive time enabling us to do the job asked of us effectively. We wonder if any other professionals are expected to do the majority of their planning on their own time.

Mike Burns' "facts" concerning the pay scale are also incorrect. This year, new teachers earned $24,583. A teacher with 15 years' experience and a Ph.D. could earn $43,800. Once again, we wonder if Mr. Burns researched what a 15-year experienced Ph.D. earns in other fields. . . . We wonder if Mr. Burns entered a single elementary school or spoke with one teacher before rendering this opinion. We invite him to spend a day with us -- or to exchange places with an elementary school teacher for even a single day. Perhaps that teacher would enjoy spending a day writing editorial opinions on subjects that she/he knows nothing about.

The above letter was signed by 31 teachers at Ring Factory Elementary School, Bel Air.

School Funding

I have always enjoyed reading The Sun to find out information and facts each day. However, the old doubts that you cannot believe everything you read in the newspaper seem to be true in several articles that I have read within the past several months.

As one of the former media specialists at the Havre de Grace Elementary School, I have found some discrepancies in recent articles that I feel the need to clarify. In an article May 30, entitled "2 schools may be dropped from federal funding program for poor children," Doris Carey is quoted as saying that the school's dictionary is from the 1960s. I think . . . perhaps one of the dictionaries is from the 1960s.

Entering the media center at Havre de Grace Elementary, one can find in the Reference section several Webster's Dictionaries ordered within the past two years. Also, on the windowsill is a dictionary stand with a large Unabridged Webster's Dictionary that was a gift to the school several years ago.

An article written earlier this spring quoted the media center as having no new encyclopedias within the past 10 years. I talked with staff writer Sherrie Ruhl about this distorted fact, as one set of Children's Britannica was ordered in 1989 and one set of Grolier's Student Encyclopedia was ordered in 1993.

I can understand the need for more funds in purchasing library materials for this school, but I do not feel that the newspaper's distortion of the facts will help get the funding. It will only make one wonder at the truth of other articles whether they are accurate or distorted to create sensationalism.

Leigh Walker

Bel Air

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