Value teachers or they’ll teach somewhere else
Letter to the Editor by Jackie Doherty published in the Lowell Sun, October 2003
As a parent with two children in the Lowell Public Schools, I am deeply disturbed by Mr. Campanini’s apparent disregard for the importance of good teachers. (Teachers contract is a tainted affair–Lowell Sun 10/1) Good teachers are our most vital educational resource. Without good teachers everything else falls short, including expensive programs, the latest technology and new school buildings. If Campanini thinks Lowell can attract good teachers without competitive salaries, he should acquaint himself with current predictions regarding teacher shortages. Although he claims he would love to see Lowell make the Top Ten Best Schools list, he’s not willing to invest in it. Without competitive salaries, benefits and other incentives, many excellent teachers will choose other school districts. Why should they? As Campanini points out, Lowell teachers now “earn more, on average, than colleagues at Acton-Boxboro Regional High School.” How’s that for a comparison! Lowell teachers earn more because they teach in a more challenging environment, while being held (rightfully) to the same high standards as wealthy suburban schools. Consider this: Are Acton teachers instructing fifth grade classes with upwards of 31 students, like their Lowell counterparts? What percentage of Acton students and their parents are not native English speakers? How many Acton children eat a subsidized lunch? How many Acton youths are involved in gangs? The two districts may as well be different planets.
There is one point, however, in which I side with Campanini: He laments the cuts being made to educational programs and I agree. We do a great disservice to our children and our city if we don’t make education a priority. But I can’t help wondering if Mr. Campanini has ever spent time in a Lowell classroom or if he has any children in the Lowell Public Schools? Perhaps if he did, he would not be so quick to sacrifice our ability to attract and retain good teachers at the altar of phony fiscal responsibility.