Once again, politicians who fail to do their jobs are blaming teachers. In his recent column, Rep. Terry Nealy cleverly overlooks that the Legislature is in contempt of the Washington Supreme Court for not adequately funding schools. Twice voters have ordered smaller classes for all grade levels, and annual inflation increases for teachers (who have gone six years without a raise). Nealy declares an average teacher makes more than $60,000. In reality, that is almost top pay, and only with the highest college degrees.
State pay for a beginning teacher is $34,048. With a doctorate and 16 years’ experience, pay tops out at $64,174. Teachers could work another 27 years without a raise before retiring at 65. Nealy doesn’t mention that as a state legislator, he gets an 11 percent raise over the next two years, for $46,839. Legislators must work less than 83 days a year, versus educators who teach nine and a half months and take ongoing classes to meet licensing requirements.
Nealy knows teachers have written, emailed, and publicly rallied, but he has turned a deaf ear. Instead, he cites a law that says teachers have no specific right to strike so it’s illegal. Likewise, no law grants a specific right for people to wear purple pants while chewing bubble gum on Sundays. But that doesn’t mean it’s illegal. Instead of suggesting teachers are lawbreakers, Nealy should follow his sworn oath — and directives by voters, and the Supreme Court — and adequately fund public schools.
President of the Pasco Association of Educators