In seeking to respond to Supervisor Cindy Bailey's April 12 letter to the editor, "Teachers Don't Leave Because of Money," I am reminded of the conundrum of the mosquito in the nudist colony: I know what to do; I just don't know where to start.
Among professions that require a college degree (and the accompanying student loans), teaching is among the lowest paying. It is true that if earning money is one's highest priority, then one is unlikely to become a teacher. However, the relevant market for comparison isn't some undefined "others in Shenandoah County," it is teaching positions in adjoining jurisdictions, and Shenandoah County pays less than most of them.
Mostly, however, I believe teachers care about the commitment of a particular community to education. In talking about teachers like a disposable commodity (as Bailey's letter does), Bailey is not sending a very good message about our community's commitment.
The School Board has approved a budget that will put us on the road toward keeping our kids competitive with graduates from better-resoured school districts; in supporting it, our community can show our teachers that, even though they might make more money elsewhere, we can meet them halfway in sharing their commitment to our kids.
It is true that, at our current pay scales, our county will probably be able to find someone to stand in front our kids in class. But over time, our best and brightest teachers will be cherry-picked by other jurisdictions with better pay and better commitment to education.
I commend our supervisors for their efforts to keep our property taxes low -- many jurisdictions pay multiples of our tax rate. But without investment in education, our county will not be able to attract the businesses and residents we need to grow. I think it is an investment our county is ready to make.
Finally, on behalf of many grateful parents, I hope our teachers know that our county values them far more than Bailey's letter implies.
Dan Walsh, Edinburg