Letters to the Editor: January 13, 2016 


'Money Belt'

Another large earthquake wakes us up.

Published science in esteemed peer-reviewed journals the past four years have pinpointed the cause: injecting large amounts of fracking waste liquid into old gas and oil wells along fault lines in central Oklahoma.

It is clear what must be done: Ban all fracking and fracking waste injection within a 100-mile radius of Edmond.

But what are our city officials and elected leaders who are entrusted with our safety and the integrity of our property doing about this? The answer is “nothing.”

Do they not care about our safety and our property? Evidently not.

It appears all they care about are profits by the fossil fuel industry, which dictates their every move. This area is called the Bible Belt. But in reality, it appears to be the Money Belt.

Start electing officials and appointing city leaders that will stand up to the money-driven fossil fuel industry and start looking after the safety of our citizens first.

— Jay Hanas



Legislator pay

In regard to T. Furlong’s letter, “Easy money?” (Opinion, Letters to the Editor, Dec. 23, Oklahoma Gazette), actually, Oklahoma’s own legislatures would qualify for having the most time off of any profession.

To enlighten readers, our own legislators are paid approximately $7,000 more than the starting salary of an Oklahoma teacher. That figure does not include the per diem salary perks and bonuses that add between $9,000 to $17,000 annually.

This makes Oklahoma legislatures rank 15 in legislator pay.

Yet they only work four months out of the year. And don’t forget they get taxpayer-paid health care benefits.

Teachers work very hard for their money. Teachers have to pay out of their own pocket at times for basic school supplies that the Legislature does not bother to adequately fund so that they can get their own perks and mooch off of the taxpayer.

It is a cause for shame that Oklahoma is the only state in the union that has to rely on a sales tax to finally, adequately pay for its own educational system.

Before anyone speaks ill of our teachers, one needs to look no further than our own legislators for examples of those who are only seeking to enrich themselves at the expense of honest, working Oklahoman teachers.

— Edward Dempewolf



Wasteful spending

Jennifer Chancellor, editor-in-chief of this publication, thinks we should stop “arguing that educators are selfish, entitled, overpaid, vacation-hogging whiners” (Opinion, Commentary, “Public school teacher pay reality check,” Dec. 30, Gazette). But at the same time, Jennifer, don’t cite figures from “Scholastic’s Primary Sources report” and expect me to believe its conclusions are unbiased.

We’d go a long way toward funding raises for teachers who deserve it by employing some serious measures to reduce waste. Throwing more money at a problem that’s hemorrhaging dollars isn’t realistic.

I’m not anti-teacher, but it’s nonsense to follow the Boren Brigade and saddle Oklahoma with the highest sales tax in the nation.

— Thomas L. Furlong

Oklahoma City


Cost-of-living wages

On behalf of all Oklahoma educators: We need raises!

I haven’t had a raise in seven years. I haven’t had more than a 2 percent raise in 10-15 years.

I am tired of being patient. I can’t afford to be understanding any longer. I have a 2004 salary having to deal with 2015 prices. I would need a 10 percent raise just to have the purchasing power I had 7-8 years ago.

Educators need raises that, at the very least, catch us up to the prices we have to pay. The banks, the utility companies, the grocery stores don’t care about the political dogma of the state Legislature. They expect payment on their terms, at their level, at 2015 prices.

Knowledge is the bedrock of any civilization. Education is the foundation of any growth, innovation, invention or success for a 21st-century technological society. Teachers and professors are the lifeblood of education. We are the ones that make it happen. In the 21st century, people have to know more than pop culture and local gossip — history, science, sociology, psychology, the ability to think creatively and critical reasoning. These are all basic skills and knowledge needed in order to understand today’s issues and make informed decisions in a 21st-century world. Try to imagine your life without having any of this information. We need education.

Education is what makes a 21st-century society successful, yet educators are treated like 19th-century schoolmarms, told we are lucky to have jobs. Luck has nothing to do with it.

I went to college; four years for my Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Kansas and three years for my Master of Fine Arts from Indiana University. I taught for six years in Kansas before coming to Oklahoma, applying for a job that called for a master’s degree as a minimal requirement. Every educator has committed the time, study and work demanded to prepare themselves for their chosen profession.

And it is a profession. I can’t pay bills with altruism. I can’t buy a car with “It’s for the children.”

I teach because I want to. I enjoy being a part of the learning process. I can’t imagine doing anything else for a paycheck. Yet I don’t have a spouse who is earning “the real money.” We both teach. My paycheck is what pays my bills, covers my mortgage, buys food and clothes and makes the car payment. It pays for me keeping up with new developments in my field, going to workshops and seminars and research and personal development that comes back to the classroom through me. It pays for going to visit my grandchildren.

The same salary that hasn’t changed for the past 10 years doesn’t cover all of this anymore.

Two arguments I can imagine hearing are, “There are a lot of people who don’t make as much as you do now.” True, but were they required to have advanced college degrees and educations before even applying for the job they have? Second, “More money won’t make for better schools.” Of course it takes money! Of course it takes money to maintain and upgrade infrastructures, money to replace and upgrade equipment and to insure your employees are paid and compensated fairly and in a way that reflects their experience and job requirements.

We are your employees. Public education is there, has been there and, for the sake of the future of this nation, will be there for you, the people. Public education is the responsibility of the state, not just the politicians but you, the people. You desire educational and training opportunities to make your futures better.

Free education isn’t free, and either everyone pays a little or some people pay a lot. If the state isn’t subsidizing education realistically and responsibly, then school budgets are cut and tuitions go up.

Simply let educators teach; it’s what we have studied, trained and prepared for. Give us the tools to teach for the 21st century and reduce the teacher-to-student ratio so that students can get the quality time teachers want to give them.

Recognize and compensate educators for the professionals that we are.

None of us expected to get rich teaching, but we should be able to expect a fair and professional salary. We take our role and responsibility to society seriously.

The people of Oklahoma need to take our role seriously as well and recognize and acknowledge education as the only path to a future for this state and society.

— Howard Koerth

Oklahoma City

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