Does Jim Verdolini (March 25) really believe increasing funds to education means “upgrading some teacher’s vacation?” When I decided to become a teacher six years ago, I knew I would not get rich, so I try to ignore people who bemoan all that time off they think I have. But, frankly, I’m tired of being a scapegoat for increasing taxes and supposed academic failures.

I am a highly qualified teacher with five years of college education who has been teaching English in Scarborough for six years. I make just over $32,000, and I pay taxes, too. While some people imagine teachers dangling toes in the water on an exotic beach during the summer, many work full-time jobs. For me, working three nights a week during the school year and a full-time job during the summer grossed about another $4,000.

Verdolini, and others like him, should know the facts before pointing fingers. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, in 2004 the average food service manager in Maine made $43,950, while the average teacher made $41,090. If a teacher in Maine has to work a second job and forgo his “upgraded vacation” to make what the manager of Wendy’s is making, then I guess we know where our priorities are.

What is really mediocre? Maine’s fourth-graders who ranked seventh in the nation for reading in 2005, our eighth-graders who ranked second that same year, or Verdolini’s knowledge of the facts?

Scott Nailor, Auburn