The Sept. 30 Sun Journal editorial correctly identified a number of issues relative to paying Auburn teachers for professional development, including the loss of classroom instructional time and an increased burden on parents to accommodate an altered Wednesday schedule.
It also accurately noted the demands which mass customized learning is making on teachers (since the Maine Legislature made "standards-based education" the law of the state, without offering any guidance for its implementation), and agrees that extra time will be required for schools to comply.
The editorial also correctly included teachers in the "licensed professional" category, along with lawyers, electricians, doctors, dental hygienists, engineers and counselors, and then suggests that since those professionals are not paid for professional development time, neither should teachers be.
But that is where the editorialist missed the point. The average annual salaries nationally for those professions, as posted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics are: lawyers, $130,490; electricians, $52,910; doctors, $184,650; dental hygienists, $69,760; engineers, $77,120; counselors, $43,830.
New teachers in Maine make barely $30,000 per year, and the average Maine teacher salary, according to www.teacherportal.com, is $47,182. So, with the exception of counselors, teachers are the lowest-paid professionals on the editorial's list.
And now the editorialist wants teachers to donate additional time for professional development? After already donating countless unpaid hours for lesson planning, grading, recertification and student support?
Talk to a lawyer and you'll pay by the minute, to the tune of hundreds of dollars per hour. If you want to pay teachers like that ($130,000 per year), then you might be justified in expecting them to do their professional development on their own time.
Until that day comes, people already get from teachers a whole lot more than they pay for.
Late-start Wednesdays are both necessary and fair.
John Neal, Greene
Editor's note: On Oct. 4, the Auburn School Committee reversed its Sept. 26 vote and rejected a proposal to implement late-start Wednesdays for grades seven to 12.