Teachers worth what they're paid

Opinion: Letters To The Editor

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I feel compelled to respond to Mr. Bernstein's viewpoint, "Is OPRF High School worth its weight in gold?" [Viewpoints, Jan. 9] with an enthusiastic Yes!

I have two sons at OPRF: a freshman and a senior. Our experience at the high school has been very positive. Both sons have had excellent teachers. My eldest is well prepared for college and will likely have at least one semester of college completed when he graduates, having taken several AP courses. This will allow him to either pick up a minor or take classes required for medical school that would not be required for his degree, all while graduating in four years instead of five.

Since we didn't have to send him to a private school to get the high-quality education he has received at OPRF, we have four additional years of savings for college.

Outside of the classroom, both boys have been involved in the music program, which I can't say enough about. The bands and orchestras are led by true professionals who put their heart into what they do. Mr. Bernstein should really take in a performance some day to see the amazing talent these teachers bring out of these kids.

I was a substitute teacher at OPRF for a couple of years, and I can say that it is a challenging place to teach. I saw the notice in Wednesday Journal indicating how much the teachers make and I felt no urge to run out and get my teaching certification. We can't take a Walmart approach to everything in our lives.

My experience with OPRF, as a parent and as someone who worked there for a short time, is that the teachers are well worth what they are paid.

Steve Wade

River Forest

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Uncommon Sense  

Posted: January 18th, 2013 1:40 PM

Wow, Mike. That is a new one. Typically, when you lefties can't come up with an intelligent response to debate points, you just jump straight to the racist card. But I guess I will take being able to pee farther.


Posted: January 18th, 2013 10:25 AM

Term limits and the elimination of pensions for elected officials is a good start.

Brian Slowiak from Oak Park  

Posted: January 18th, 2013 10:04 AM

Being a retired police officer,pensions (annuities) have two portions.The individual payment made by the worker and the matching government portion paid by the tax payer.The problem now is that g, ie taxpayers have not made their contribution.Cops,ff,teach,will not get a full social security benefit even though full taxes were taken before and after public sector service. Start by cutting pension benefits by 20% for elected officials.They didnt do what they were elected for.

Mr. Middle  

Posted: January 18th, 2013 9:11 AM

Pensions are not underfunded by accident. The actuarial science (yes science) has proven for 20 years that these benefits would not work. That's OK, put a buddy on the pension board and fire the actuary that says that. Or just do not do the due diligence. For 20 years this is what the State has done. Why? Votes! Should the taxpayer be responsible for a system that never financially worked? Oh but the battle cry is...its for the teachers! Salary has never been the issue.


Posted: January 17th, 2013 11:31 PM

Notice how the left loves pensions but screams about privatizing SS and allowing us to invest in stocks, bonds, etc. Most major public union pension plans are outsourced to professional managers and include a mix of stocks, bonds, hedge funds, private equity, real estate, etc. The Clifornia public employee retirement system just happens to be the LARGEST private equity investor in the US so CA public empioyees are greedy job killers just like romney. BTW- IL pensions have invested in Bain


Posted: January 17th, 2013 10:09 PM

I vividly recall arguing as a callow youth about who could really piss farther (further?). That whole silly juvenile issue got settled when I witnessed someone who could definitely, no doubt about it, piss WAY fa(u)rther than the rest of us. Then we all grew up, and most of us switched out pissing matches for intellect. The rest, many who could, I admit, whiz clear across a street, opted for following Rush Limbaugh.


Posted: January 17th, 2013 9:54 PM

Dear uncommon, Arguing with you is like arguing who can piss further. Bet teachers are not asking for a gold star, but I bet the good ones are wondering why peopl like you are so bitter. Still haven't told us what you do so we can move the discussion past just the teachers.

Conncerned from Oak Park  

Posted: January 17th, 2013 7:40 PM

Back and forth, back and forth. Yes, Dear teacher you are worth every penny. But Dear teacher I am entitled to live out my life in my very little home and not on the street which is where I will be if we don't stop this nonsense. We can't afford you anymore.

Equality from Oak Park  

Posted: January 17th, 2013 7:23 PM

Isn't anyone getting social security. We pay in 6.?% and an additional 2.?% for Medicare. That is a little more than 8%. We do not get free health care at retirement. The maximum amount at age 66 is $2500/mo. At age 55 its about $1500/mo. and you think I'm going to pay you for your ludicrous pensions. Get real.


Posted: January 17th, 2013 4:17 PM

Jim - There is no easy solution. If you want to keep pensions sustainable, the actuarial math needs to change...higher contributions from employees, higher retirement age, sliding scale of payments as retirees age (to assure they do not withdraw more than they put in over life), etc. Does it make sense for taxpayers to pick up the employer portion of SS and move them to defined contribution plans? It might. Both sides need a math lesson here. An equitable solution is out there.


Posted: January 17th, 2013 4:10 PM

There is a reason the unions balk at having new members under a 401k type plan. It's because their contributions are needed to fund retirees' benefits. So what economic phenomenon is where initial investors (retirees) receive payouts from the influx of money from new investors (new teachers)? A Ponzi scheme!

Uncommon Sense  

Posted: January 17th, 2013 3:55 PM

Jim, it is a ponzi scheme as well, but I honestly don't care because I believe that the good men and women who risk their lives in public service should be afforded a certain retirement given the risk involved/sacrifces that we ask of them over the course of their careers in dealing with criminals and saving lives. While there are plenty of great teachers I think it is a stretch to put teaching on the same level as being a beat cop or fire fighter imho.

Jim Coughlin from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: January 17th, 2013 3:41 PM

Explain why you don't refer to police and fire pensions as a "ponzi scheme".

Uncommon Sense  

Posted: January 17th, 2013 2:38 PM

jim, the solution is new teachers need 401ks/iras and other individual accounts like every other professional. If they want professional salaries, they need to be treated like professionals. Only folks who should have guaranteed pensions are police and fire due to inherent job risk.

Jim Coughlin from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: January 17th, 2013 2:23 PM

What's your solution, Muntz?

Uncommon Sense  

Posted: January 17th, 2013 1:57 PM

Muntz, in the real world, we call that a ponzi scheme. In union land, that is called a pension.


Posted: January 17th, 2013 1:38 PM

Jim - I'm not blaming teachers at all. Current funding is irrelevant. The main issue is that pensioners are, as a whole, withdrawing more than they are contributing (+/- gains). That is simply unsustainable. Investment returns are not guaranteed yet the pension system assumes investment gains in perpetuity. Recent events contradict that belief.


Posted: January 17th, 2013 1:37 PM

I would blame the teachers for the mess as they will always vote for the status quo only to secure their positions with little or no concern for the over all effects it has economically for Illinois. The Madigans, the Finnegans, their shenanigans and the rest of the hooligans. There are some of us who can say we're taxed without representation.

Jim Coughlin from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: January 17th, 2013 1:09 PM

So you're blaming teachers for the pension funding mess,Muntz? Look to the crooks for Springfield for failing to make the required contributions and using the fund as a way to enrich themselves and their cronies. Don't point the finger at a teacher who devoted 30 years to teach our children.

Cosmic Queen from Oak Park  

Posted: January 17th, 2013 12:26 PM

If teachers are worth what they are paid then just think what mothers and fathers are worth!


Posted: January 17th, 2013 11:21 AM

Jim - I understand the basics of how pensions are funded. Approx 9% of wages withheld with the GUARANTEE of a "salary" for LIFE, based on the last few years of service, regardless of how much money the person contributed. Guaranteed payout + early retirement age + increasing lifespans = financial disaster. My 401k only allows me to take out what I put in +/- gains. No guarantees. And the "teachers beget surgeons" argument I understand, but that's a rabbit hole I'm not going down at this point.

Jim Coughlin from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: January 17th, 2013 10:24 AM

Muntz, I don't think you understand how teacher pensions are funded. Keep in mind that if teachers weren't teaching there wouldn't be "surgeons,chemical engineers, financial advisors and other intellectual, high paying careers". We owe a debt of gratitude to those who dedicate themselves to the education of others.

Jim Coughlin from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: January 17th, 2013 10:18 AM

Wow, Real List! It didn't take long for extremists to latch on to the "children as shields" rant. It seems all Limbaugh has to do is utter such nonsense and his dittos try to apply to other discussions. You're wrong about students being used a pawns in contract negotiations. Teachers want every child to reach their potential and understand that overcrowded classrooms, inadequate supplies and dilapidated facilities are a hinderance to achieving that goal.

Jim Coughlin from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: January 17th, 2013 10:10 AM

Back to you, OPRF Dad. How much is a good teacher worth to you,your family and society? What's your idea of acceptable compensation for Oak Park teachers?


Posted: January 17th, 2013 9:32 AM

Teachers are worth what the market with bear - which is a lot less than what they are paid in Oak Park.

Real List  

Posted: January 17th, 2013 9:21 AM

Jim - I don't buy your "Unions...also act on behalf of the children" statement. The union has hidden behind the "but we and we alone love children" shield for far too long. Children are human beings, not pawns to use in negotiations.


Posted: January 16th, 2013 10:26 PM

We are all for fair compensation, but the free market should decide what that is. Basic supply and demand. Is there a shortage of qualified teachers in the market? Doesn't appear so. If teachers weren't teaching, would the market be flooded w/ surgeons, chemical engineers, financial advisers, and other intellectual, high-paying careers? Doesn't look like it. Add the ponzi-like current pension system on top of that when all members take out more that they contributed, it raises value questions.

Jim Coughlin from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: January 16th, 2013 10:23 PM

Teachers today have to do more than teach. Sadly, too many students come in to the classroom burdened with a wide variety of issues. Poor nutrition, lack of sleep, limited parental involvement are just a few of the big problems that hinder the learning process. Chaos in the home leads to chaos in the classroom. Unions represent teachers but they also act on behalf of the children. Overcrowded classrooms, lack of materials and inadequate facilites add to the challenge of educating students. It's a profession that has recently come under fire but most of us can remember a time when teachers were respected and can recall the ones who impacted our lives in a positive manner. It's a difficult job that requires a strong will, dedication and patience.

Concerned taxpayer from Oak Park  

Posted: January 16th, 2013 10:08 PM

Teachers do work hard. Are they worth adequate compensation you bet. But, the unions behind them are extracting more and more. When I was working, I went 5-6 years without a raise, I was at top salary. Masters degree paid no more unless you were in a specialty position. I worked holidays, weekends, nights. I probably wasn't thought of as well as a teacher except if you were sick. I was a nurse and most of us did not have a union.

Jim Coughlin from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: January 16th, 2013 5:47 PM

Frank, you must know someone who is a school teacher. Ask them to calculate for you the number of hours they work per week. You'd be surprised! They do indeed have a lot of homework. Certainly a great deal more than most professions. Unless you think that bus drivers,barbers,electricians bartenders, plumbers, pizza makers and store clerks take work home with them. A professional who works on your behalf after normal business hours is going to bill you their hourly rate. For teachers, figure in the amount of time devoted to lesson planning, grading papers, contacting parents and inputing grades. That's requires a considerable number of hours and effort. If you have an issue with teachers not being in the classroom 50 weeks per year, take your concerns to your local school board and state legislator. Teachers do not determine classroom size, a school calendar year or the numbers of days students must attend. There's also plenty of research and studies availabe to reference that will detail how much classroom time is beneficial towards learning and when diminishing returns are realized. You've got a lot learn about the process of educating our children. Maybe you could volunteer in a classroom in order to get a better understanding and appreciation of the teaching profession.

Uncommon Sense  

Posted: January 16th, 2013 4:40 PM

In a free market, good teachers would make a ton of money regardless of subject, average teachers would just make average, and bad teachers would be unemployed. What we have now is mediocrity across the board. The good ones are stifled and the bad ones are protected.

Frank Kevil from Forest Park  

Posted: January 16th, 2013 4:08 PM

Full time is a 40 hour week for 50 weeks. Teachers work on average 37 weeks per year. Spare me the horse hockey on how much "we take home with us" Every professional does work off the clock. Teaching is a part time job!

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