Letter: For good schools, ‘I will gladly pay more’

I would like to share my views on the school budget proposal, particularly as it relates to the compensation of our teachers. First I have to share that I am a big fan of our public schools, having several children and grandchildren who have graduated from them, all of whom have gone on to college – four of them at Mr. Jefferson’s university.

My doctor, who is perhaps the best doctor in Virginia in my opinion, is a graduate of Rappahannock County High School, as are many of the people I interact with on a daily basis. All of these people have benefited from an education that has at its heart a caring and dedicated group of teachers, a group that now finds itself under siege by some who would seek to sacrifice our future for the sake of a few dollars today.

I would remind your readers that our teachers have the insurance benefits they have because they did not get any raises of any sort for many years, and minimal raises before that. If there are those who think it’s time to take that benefit away, to start to charge our teachers more for their benefits package, fine. But if you do that, then it’s also time to institute those long-overdue raises that the benefits packages were in lieu of.  I think 15 to 20 percent would probably be appropriate, and even that would probably still not put us on par with many of our neighboring school systems.

And for those of your readers who say that what we do for the teachers we have to do for all county employees, I ask; are all county employees required to have a college degree to have their job? Encouraged to earn a master’s degree as soon as possible once they get their job? No disrespect at all intended towards our other hardworking employees, but we cannot compare apples to oranges.

I would also remind your readers that, regarding test scores and costs per pupil, there is often more to the figures than the figures themselves. A friend of my son’s used to say, either all figures lie or all liars figure. I don’t know if that’s true, but I do know that if we were to look closely at the costs of the Catholic schools cited in last week’s letter, we might very well find many school “costs” picked up by other entities, entities that schools do not have available to them.

In our case here in Rappahannock, our per-pupil costs are bound to be higher due to our low numbers due to savings from economies of scale that we will never see. And as for test scores, I do not doubt that some private schools score higher than many public schools but to those who so proudly proclaim those facts, I would pose a question; do the private schools have to take every student that shows up at their door, as the public schools do?

I have paid taxes here in Rappahannock most of my adult life and hope to continue to do so for some years to come. And while I am no land baron, neither am I an owner of just a quarter-acre lot! I will gladly pay a little more if it ensures that we are able to attract and retain quality teachers to ensure that our quality public schools continue and build upon the legacy of achievement that they have attained thus far.

Phyllis Swindler
Proud widow of a veteran

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