Administrators first at the trough

To the Editor,

In the movie of a true story, “We Were Soldiers,” the battalion commander, played by Mel Gibson, tells his men, just before they depart for battle, he will be the first one off the chopper and the last one on after the battle. He also insisted every enlisted man be fed before he and his officer ate. That is leadership.

Recently, at a (Vermilion Parish, La.) school board meeting, a teacher asked the superintendent why he was getting a $34,000 raise, when the district’s teachers had not gotten raises in years. She was told to sit down. When she refused, she was roughly escorted out of the room by a security guard, then wrestled to the floor, handcuffed and carted off to jail.

A big part of the problem with public education is the front line soldiers (the teachers), in the trenches battling daily to teach, are hampered by all sorts of restrictions, and are micro-managed from the top down by a bloated administrative bureaucracy who feeds from the trough first, foremost, and often, while the dedicated who are over-worked and over-stressed see their paychecks eroded by inflation and ever-increasing medical insurance premiums.

The average West Virginia teacher salary is $46,000. That is a lot of money to me, but I am retired and have learned to live on less, have no house or car payment and therefore no debt, yet. What will do me in, like the rest of the working middle class, are future medical costs. My wife and I are one major prolonged illness away from insolvency, i.e. unable to make sufficient medical payments and sustain our retiring lifestyle. Medicare premiums with deductibles already consume 25 percent of our pensions. That used to be what one’s house payment cost, which built equity! That equity now sits in reserve to be distributed to the medical providers upon death.

Teachers, however, are trying to support families, buy homes and vehicles, save for college for their children while paying off their own student loans and trying to keep abreast of inflating medical costs, deductibles and premium increases without pay raises in longer than they can remember. They are teachers, not magicians. They not only feel unappreciated, but worse, disrespected. The responsibility for this lies foremost with the administrators who, instead of being first off the chopper, are first at the trough.

Blaise Hogan