Readers respond to Newsday's cover story on educators' earnings and...

Readers respond to Newsday's cover story on educators' earnings and to the letters that followed it. Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto/Korovin

Debate over money educators get

The article "How much educators make on LI" [News, Aug. 8] is unfair to teachers as professionals. The reporters mischaracterized teacher salaries by including the top-heavy administrators’ salaries, and by omitting the master’s degree and additional college credits required to obtain and sustain teacher certifications and update their knowledge base in a highly competitive Long Island market.

Most teachers who reach that $120,000 salary do not do so until at least 20 years of teaching in the same district and with those degrees and certifications. A teacher’s job requires much more than teaching curriculum. Teachers are also expected to be social workers, diagnosticians, psychologists, nurses, disciplinarians, dietitians and family counselors for their students and families. In many cases, teachers help produce the highly educated men and women and their affluent lifestyle on Long Island.

Teachers also pay high local and state taxes and purchase homes at exorbitant prices. Have they no right to a decent salary that supports the high cost of living here commensurate with their education, skills and contributions to society?

— Marianna DeAngelo, Huntington

The writer was an elementary school teacher in the Levittown school district for 30 years.

It is clear that Perry Fuchs, president of the Plainedge Federation of Teachers, thinks that only his members experience the high cost of living here. They are all doing very well at taxpayers’ expense.

I do not resent teachers and administrative personnel enjoying a good living, but it should not be shouldered by taxpayers. They need to start funding their own pensions and healthcare just like the rest of us and not at some low percentage like 5% or 10%. Union dues should be used to fund their pensions. That would reduce our tax burden. James Jacobson, Bethpage

It took 37 years for this retired teacher’s salary to rise from $6,400 in 1966 to $100,000 in 2003. But not only do I not begrudge current teachers higher salaries for doing their extremely important, difficult and underappreciated jobs, I would even propose the radical idea that no school administrator should ever receive a salary greater than, or even equal to, the salary teachers are paid ["Educators’ pay draws attention," Letters, Aug. 12]. Yes, teachers deserve to be paid more than school principals and even superintendents of districts. After all, teachers do the essential jobs in schools: directly educating the students.

The role of administrators is basically that of "support personnel," people whose job it is to help teachers do their jobs. Look at   professional sports: Managers and coaches usually are not paid as much as the players are — and the classroom is the teachers’ field of play.

— Richard Siegelman, Plainview

Everybody deserves a good salary, especially teachers and police officers. The problem is the obscene benefits.

Retirement pay should be capped at $2,000 to $3,000 a month plus a 401(k) plan. Sick and vacation payouts should be capped at $10,000 to $15,000.

After I retired from a private company, I worked in a Suffolk County low-paying job for 11 years. You wouldn’t believe the retirement benefits I received.

Every teacher, school administrator, and police officer I know who retired and moved to Florida or the Carolinas told me that taxes were too high to remain here. How ironic.

Let’s reduce property taxes by a retirement income tax which is  fairer for all.

— Bill Britz, Sayville

When I started teaching in the early 1980s, my salary was $18,000. My home cost just under $100,000 and my annual property taxes were $2,000.

Now my home is worth $500,000, my taxes are more than $12,000, and starting teachers’ average salaries are in the mid-$60,000 range. Does that seem fair?

In my district, to get near a six-figure salary, a teacher needed a master’s degree, at least 60 graduate credits and about 15 to 20 years of teaching seniority. What other profession requires so much education and pays so little at the beginning of a career?

The Long Island cost of living is insane — and teachers’ salaries are the problem? You do realize they have to live here, too, right?

These are hardworking, educated people who have earned college degrees, paid their dues  and are Long Island homeowners who also pay taxes. They are our neighbors, friends and relatives.

If you think they are overpaid, go back to school and become one.

— Mary Timmons, Miller Place

The writer taught in an elementary school in Northport for 25 years.

I do not think a teacher’s job is easy. But to read that teachers are underpaid while making at least $80,000 to $100,000 a year, plus benefits and retirement, for approximately 200 workdays? That should be no reason to complain.

I know Long Island is expensive to live in, but somehow we make it work.

— Ronald Farber, Shirley

Voters who approve school budgets constantly bemoan that teachers get what they get, but they are the ones who are voting for it. Considering that educators are the ones who educated these same decriers speaks volumes to  understanding the system.

Those associated with teaching will say they deserve it, but they don’t deserve it merely because living standards here are high. If that were true, then everyone would deserve the same exorbitant salaries.

And who described middle class as a six-figure salary? Ask any barber, shopkeeper, auto mechanic, service person, nurse, secretary and others if their five-figure salary is middle class and the answer will always be yes.  

— Roy Willis, Massapequa

Another benefit that the teachers and their unions would like to keep quiet is the 403(b) plan, similar to a 401(k), which many others have.

A couple of years ago, the State Legislature wanted to change teacher pensions to 401(k) plans to save taxpayers money, and the teachers’ union vehemently rejected it, and it was defeated.

Now, besides their terrific pension, teachers here are allowed to open a 403(b), and the schools deduct the money from their pay before taxes. So they didn’t think it was good when the state wanted to save money to lower our taxes, but now it’s great.  

— Albert J. Prisco, East Northport

The writer is retired agent who sold 403(b) plans to teachers. 

Afghanistan now another Vietnam

So the Taliban is retaking Afghanistan ["Taliban capture Kabul; Afghan prez flees," News, Aug. 16]. Areas were bought at the cost of far too many American lives.

When will our politicians ever learn? Vietnam took more than 58,000 American lives. A little more than a year after the Paris "Peace Accords," the North Vietnamese violated it, attacked the South, overwhelmed it, and so many American souls were lost.

Once Osama bin Laden was captured, we should have left. Afghanistan is a mess beyond our ability to fix. How many more Americans are to be lost trying to fix the world’s ills when many countries don’t want that? Many have no interest in the "American way of life," so let it go.

President Richard Nixon wrote a book titled "No More Vietnams." Perhaps it should be required reading for presidential hopefuls.

— Michael J. Genzale, Shoreham

I don’t know what the brouhaha is about Afghanistan. After all, former President Donald Trump and former Secretary of State Michael Pompeo negotiated a deal with the Taliban to get U.S. forces out. What was President Joe Biden to do? Now that he agreed with Trump to remove our forces, Pompeo is blaming Biden.

As a Vietnam veteran, I know there comes a time to pack your bags and come home after playing soldier in someone else’s country for 20 years.

Also, $2 trillion later, coupled with the sacrifices of nearly 2,500 American lives, both Biden and Trump are right in cutting our losses.

Let Afghans handle their conflict and culture themselves.

— Frank Geffrard, Central Islip

As trite as it sounds, history has repeated itself with the demise and downfall of Afghanistan. We tried to be the world’s policeman and tried to foster democracy. Now several presidents will be blamed for this debacle.

It is time to realize, revisit and be smart about who we should support. When all is said and done, thousands of Afghans will be killed, raped and used as slaves in a country where democracy is just an empty word.

It’s another Vietnam, only worse. Again, it is time to think about our foreign policies and our alliances. A blind eye concerning history could lead the United States to a situation such as the rise and fall of Rome.

— Joel Moskowitz, Plainview

The Monday morning quarterbacks have started to pile on. The hypocrisy of what I am reading and hearing is mind-blowing. For years, Americans have been screaming that we need to get out of Afghanistan. Now, we have a president who actually has the guts to make this tough decision — initially praised — getting slammed by the same people who were screaming for us to get out. Hypocrisy at its finest.

Ben Milano, Lindenhurst


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