Saturday, February 13, 2016

A Teacher Responds to NJ 101.5: My Pension is NOT Lavish! 

Mr. Scott, I would like to share with you what my day consisted of yesterday in my special education class. This is my twentieth year teaching in my district. I teach a self-contained special education class which is called a multiple disabilities program. My students are in a public middle school here in New Jersey and they have varying disabilities including but not limited to: autism, Down syndrome, spina bifida, general cognitive impairments, Rett’s syndrome, communication delays and more. My students range in age from 11-16 but are on a 2-7 year old educational level.
One of my students had a difficult day. She attacked my staff and me no less than 6 times throughout the day, threatened to kill me several times. She spat on me twice and left large pieces of mucous in my hair. Because of her assaults, we needed to restrain her twice for her safety and others. In the past this student has given one staff member a concussion and I had to see a vision specialist after she punched me in the eye.
This is not the first student in my class with these problems and she will not be the last. I love my job and the challenges it brings each and every day because in the end I care for my students and work over the four years that they are in my class to help them improve their behavior and their academic knowledge.
However, as I drive to work listening to the news of the day, reflecting on my previous school day and mentally preparing for what may lie ahead for today, your voice comes through the speakers of my car radio and I am quite upset. I respectfully, but vehemently disagree that my benefits are “lavish” as you reported on your 7:00 AM news report on 2-12-2016.
The news report should be reporting the facts, not opinion. The term “lavish” is clearly a subjective term not based on fact but opinion. You should be ashamed of yourself “reporting” that news. You may have that opinion and if you expressed that view while chatting with the host, although I may disagree, it would not have angered me.
Your opinion has no place in the “news” report unless you qualify your statements with “it is just my opinion that…” Try to do what I do for one day. Teaching others how to deal with severe behavior. Teaching paraprofessionals how to lift a student properly out of a wheelchair. Asking the school nurse to train a person to change the diapers of a 14 year old. Teaching students who are non-verbal to use a communication device. Trying to draw out the student with autism out of his world into ours for just a few minutes. Talking to parents about planning for their child’s future; a future that someday will not include the parent. Those little things are in addition to the lesson plans, preparation of individualized lessons and materials for my students who cannot learn from a traditional book. Completing the incredible amount of paperwork that is required for each student in special education. Doing all of this for each and every student in my class. I guarantee that you couldn’t do it. Most people can’t. That is fine. I CAN! Do not begin to think my benefits including my pension (that I was promised by the way when I was hired) are LAVISH. Would you tell a police officer or fire fighter that? I have the lives of special people in my hands every day. Their parents trust that their precious children who cannot communicate or care for themselves to me every day.  
I deserve those benefits and that pension because I earn them every day. What super power do you have?

1 comment:

  1. Employer contributions to pension plans are a part of a legal contract. The idea that these funds belong to employers is absurd. When contracts are negotiated, if they want to reduce their contribution, they have to offer some benefit of equal value to the employees. If I walked into the bank and took their money, I'd be arrested.