Letter to the editor — February 7, 2013

Dear Kansas Legislators,
I am just completing my 31st and last year of teaching in public education. I am delighted to say that I am taking early retirement and also moving from the state of Kansas.
I hate to tell you this, but there are going to be many of us who say enough is enough, who decide it is time to move on to something else. The things you say about us, the laws the Kansas legislators are passing or attempting to pass, have destroyed our trust and our faith in you. We are no longer able to con ourselves into believing that the government of Kansas has any interest in the future of education in this state. Unfortunately for the children of Kansas, you will also have to accept that fewer and fewer talented college students will choose to go into Kansas public education for the very reason I am getting out.
When I graduated from college in 1974 and accepted my first teaching job, I knew in my heart that I was born to teach. I am the daughter of two teachers. My grandfather was a teacher. I was proud of my profession, and most days, I loved my job. Even after dealing with the most difficult student or parent, I knew that what I was doing was important. I could convince myself of that, even though all my college classmates who did not go into education were making far more money than I. After all, I was making a difference in the lives of my students. That was enough. My own children were proud of me. One daughter followed the family tradition and became a teacher too.
Even when I plowed my own money into my classroom and paid for those graduate hours to keep my certificate and make me a better teacher, it was enough.
I know. That sounds trite, but it was true. I am a teacher. We are optimistic people.
Teachers do not go into education because of the money. Obviously, we don’t stay in education for the money either. In seven years, my base salary has increased a grand total of $366.04 a month. Really.
Why do teachers teach? More and more Kansas teachers will be asking themselves that very question. Intelligent, talented young people like my daughter, in her eighth year as a Kansas teacher. You won’t like their answers, I promise.
The governor and Kansas legislators are pushing for laws that tell my daughter that she has no right to voice her opinion, that the money she earned by teaching the students of Kansas is not even her money.
And you expect us to stay in this profession?
Ona Chapman,