LETTERS: Teacher salary comparisons not valid

To the editor:

It must be that time of year for the annual misplaced anger about teachers’ salaries, comparing them with salaries of professional athletes. Sheila Morse proves that selective data will incite anger for those who just can’t do a little bit more research to see where Nevada teacher salaries truly stand (“Teacher salaries show misplaced priorities,” Aug. 15 Review-Journal).

Let’s get into some facts: Nevada’s average teacher salary is $55,957. That puts us at No. 18 in the country. It looks like the teachers’ union is doing a fair job in Nevada. Ms. Morse used the starting salary in her letter to invoke a more emotional response from some people. Not me.

Nevada ranks 50th out of 51 (including Washington, D.C.) in the chance for success index from the EPE Research Center. We lose out only to South Dakota, which happens to pay its teachers the lowest average salary, at $39,580. If teacher salaries are somehow correlated to performance, why aren’t we around No. 18 in the chance for success index?

There are currently about 8 million teachers in the United States and only about 3,700 athletes who play in Major League Baseball, the NBA, the NFL and the NHL. Guess what happens around the world when you have certain people who have a special skill that not many others possess? Answer: They get paid very well.

Teachers do a great service to our children and our communities. I applaud them. It’s not an easy job, but it is one that many could do, if they wanted. A professional athlete, on the other hand, fills stadiums, creates thousands of jobs and provides entertainment that people pay to see. Pro athletes also aren’t collecting a paycheck from taxpayers. The people who pay to see them play and buy their jerseys pay their salaries. Trying to compare their salaries with a teacher’s is disingenuous and preys on peoples’ emotions, rather than on their common sense.

We need to improve our schools, but teacher salaries are the least of our worries. We are 33rd in the country in educational spending and teachers’ salaries are 18th. Yet 71 percent of eighth-graders aren’t proficient in math, and 44 percent of our high school students fail to graduate within four years, the highest rate in the country. Why is this?

We could start improving by increasing per-pupil spending, looking at classroom size, improving our quality of living and economic climate, and work on better parental involvement in children’s school life — all before looking at increasing teachers’ salaries.



Reforming the VA

To the editor:

Initially, Veterans Affairs was set up for veterans with service-related disabilities. Now it offers services to all veterans on a co-pay basis, depending on the level of disability. There is nothing wrong with that, but problems arise because of understaffing. Money is not the problem.

Jeanne Crayton’s letter was well-intended (“VA reform,” Aug. 21 Review-Journal), but allowing veterans to go to whatever doctor they choose creates another problem: The wait time at private clinics is already longer than at VA clinics. Adding veterans into the mix would compound an already serious problem.

What the VA needs is a radical increase in well-trained personnel and the re-opening of satellite clinics throughout the valley. In the case of an emergency, veterans with a high rating can go to any urgent care or hospital emergency room, and the VA will pick up the tab. Hospitalization paid for by the VA in a facility outside the VA system depends on whether the attending physician wants to continue caring for the patient. This is the fee-basis program and has been in place for many years.

With new management in Washington, we can only hope that misuse of funds and incompetent clinic management will become a thing of the past, but like all things in government, change is slow.

Getting rid of Sen. Harry Reid, who couldn’t care less about veterans, would be a step in the right direction.



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