To the Editor:
As an educator for 52 years, 24 of them at MVRHS, with years leading teacher training workshops, adult education, and undergraduate and graduate courses for educators, I can say with pride that teaching is indeed a noble profession. Where would we be without the nurturance of educators, the inspiration to inquire deeply, the building of skills to attain mastery for creating a better community, a better society?
Those who think that teachers work for just 10 months a year at 40 hours a week are misinformed. At my highest pay scale in the M.V. schools, I calculated my wage at under $10 an hour — year-round — considering the extra hours of preparation, working one-on-one with students and parents, advising afterschool activities, performances, domestic and international exchanges, study for proficiency, improvement, learning new technologies, maintaining certification, and keeping up to date with the art of teaching. As far as teacher retirement is concerned, yes, it is great to have a pension! However, to earn a good pension in Massachusetts, a teacher must work for 30 years and be at least 60 years old. How many of us do that?
Additionally, Massachusetts is one of a handful of states where teachers pay into the MTRS and do not earn any Social Security benefits for their years of service.
When teachers are not appreciated for their work, when they are not offered a decent cost-of-living increase, it makes me cringe. After two horrific years where societal inequities have surfaced, where teachers have been challenged to make tremendous changes, take health risks, adjust their lives and practice in so many ways to accommodate the needs of their students, it is understandable why many have chosen to leave the profession. Rather than spending taxpayers’ money to hire costly lawyers to sue one of our towns, we should be celebrating our teachers, listening to their requests, adjusting the earnings of early childhood educators and all support staff because they deserve to make a fair wage. It is the true fiduciary responsibility of the members to the school boards and administrators who are also committed to maintain excellence in our schools to protect all our students and to support and honor the just demands of those who dedicate their lives to educating our youth with quality education. It is essential for the strength of our community that our teachers are valued and compensated for their contributions. I have always been grateful for the opportunity to work at what I love in a community that I love, and I wish this for all our M.V. teachers.
Lynn Ditchfield, Ph.D., C.A.G.S., M.Ed., M.A.