Letter: The perfect time for a squeeze play?

When I was hired as a teacher seven years ago, I was given a schedule that showed the yearly step raises (they vary with experience but are about $500 per year) and the benefits package which included a subsidy for families. I was aware that the pay for teaching in Rappahannock County was below average compared to other Virginia counties in a state that was below average nationwide, but the insurance benefit helped.

Now, the process has begun to eliminate the subsidy for teacher family health care. Even with step raises (which I may or may not get in the future and haven’t gotten in years), it would be 21 years until I begin earning the national teacher average (I would be 81 years old). And I learn that somehow I am being overcompensated. Why now?

When I went to work here, I thought I would be a contributing valuable member of this community. Benefits and modest raises weren’t questioned. Now, after years without step raises, the county is going to start cutting compensation which started with September’s paycheck. As a justification for this, Ron Makela pointed out that other counties don’t help with family health care, ignoring that other counties have higher pay scales. Now obviously teachers aren’t so valuable.

Why is that? Because all across this country thousands of teachers have been laid off and every teacher in Rappahannock knows that they can be replaced very quickly. What a perfect time to put the squeeze on our neighbors and community members with those ever-so-expensive families. The people in charge of taking care of the children are going to have a harder time taking care of their own children. I don’t think the timing of this campaign is an accident. A more cynical person might even see it as opportunistic.

Mr. Makela talked about “leveling the playing field.” Either he was being disingenuous or he can’t keep his sports metaphors straight. “Leveling the playing field” would be to help children to finish high school, get good grades in college, pass the Praxis test and then compete for teaching jobs in Rappahannock County, where they can be “overcompensated.” The sports metaphor Mr. Makela should be using is “moving the goal posts.” There is a big difference.

Mark Ramey

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