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Fighting words: State rep takes teachers to task; Facebook post goes viral

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SEATTLE — State Rep. Liz Pike, R-Camas, posted a scathing indictment of what she perceives to be teachers’ dissatisfaction with a lack of pay increases on her Facebook page — and, as social media is wont to do, the post has gone viral.

liz pike1

Photo courtesy of Facebook

On June 21, Pike’s post opened with a statement that she spends a good deal of her mornings answering emails from constituents — and fielding complaints from teachers “about their cost of living increases being suspended.”

In her “open letter to public educators!” (exclamation point hers), Pike congratulates teachers on the last day of the school year, states that if she now had the opportunity to choose her career, she would opt to “get the necessary degree and teaching certificate so that I too could enjoy summertime off with my children, spring break vacations, christmas break vacations, paid holiday, a generous pension and health insurance benefits.”

Pike goes on to explain that she chooses to work in the private sector “so that I could be one of those tax payers who funds your salaries and benefits as a state employee in a local school district.”

Dialing it back for a moment, Pike does thank teachers for their service, but then seems to chide teachers again, hoping “you are one of the excellent instructors who is inspiring our children.” But for those who are dissatisfied with their pay and benefits, Pike says they “should look for work elsewhere so that someone who is inspired to greatness can take their place in the classroom. Our children deserve an exceptional and inspired teacher in every classroom. Don’t you agree?”

From the comments posted on Pike’s Facebook page, it seems that plenty don’t agree with Pike’s position. But, decide for yourself — here is Pike’s post in full:

A life in the day of a WA State Representative…
I spent the morning answering emails from constituents. I receive a lot of emails from teachers complaining about their cost of living increases being suspended. 
Here’s an open letter to public educators! Congratulations on enjoying your last day of the school year. If I had the opportunity to choose my career all over, I would have opted to get the necessary degree and teaching certificate so that I too could enjoy summertime off with my children, spring break vacations, christmas break vacations, paid holidays, a generous pension and health insurance benefits. Instead, I chose to work a career in private sector business so that I could be one of those tax payers who funds your salaries and benefits as a state employee in a local school district.

First, let me be clear, thank you for your service to our schools. I hope you are one of the excellent instructors who is inspiring our children to reach their full intellectual potential and learn the value of true leadership in our community. I hope you are one of the brightest and best in your teaching profession who is willing to raise the bar in our public education system that unfortunately continues to plummet when compared to worldwide education standards. The big difference between the U.S. public education system and others in the world is that we have unions that only care about the adults in the system. Since the rise of teachers’ unions in this nation, our public education system has deteriorated.

I always encourage folks to choose a job they love! If you are uninspired because of the lack of a cost of living increase, I encourage you to speak with your neighbors who work in the private sector. Ask them when was the last time they were guaranteed pay increases that were not based on performance standards. Furthermore, teachers who are dissatisfied with their pay and benefits should look for work elsewhere so that someone who is inspired to greatness can take their place in the classroom. Our children deserve an exceptional and inspired teacher in every classroom. Don’t you agree?

If you look at all the possible things the state can do for its citizens, you will quickly realize there will never be enough money for all of the programs that some legislators want. Just like you and I do in our own household budgets, so must the legislature. For me, it’s all about priorities and spending less money that the state takes in. If we do this, we will have a reserve for emergencies and economic downturns so that we can avoid raising yet more taxes.

I am a State Representative with core values in smaller, more efficient government, more personal responsibility and less reliance on government in our everyday lives. My positions were clearly stated in my year long campaign before I was elected and they should come as no surprise.

To every excellent teacher in Clark County. Thank you for the great work you are doing in our classrooms. Enjoy your summer!

Liz Pike
Washington State House of Representatives
18th Legislative District
“Protecting life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”

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  • John Fuller

    I just hope that I live long enough to enjoy the massive pension fund that I'm saving up for when I retire outside the United States. The U.S. is becoming more and more like a Nazi Regime. Tax the working class to fund the misappropriations of the Elite.

  • Skip

    This sounds like the typical Republican attitude about everything. Many people feel the state legislators aren't doing their jobs and completing their assignments on time, so I give them a failing grade. Shut up and do your job.

    • Joe Camel

      She is doing her job, reminding educators that learning is more important then earning to keep up with the Obama and getting a bigger slice of pie from the public troth.

      Skip sounds like typical liberal never take responsibility for your position in life, just blame others for not giving more so you can rest on your laurels.

      I think maybe we should just have full year round schooling for teachers and just dived up the students so they can keep their typical school breaks by number of days. Some students will have to go to school during summer but that could alternate every other year. This would definitely resolve class room sizes and perhaps give teachers a reason to be grateful they don't have full time jobs annually.

      • Ralph

        Republicans are the first in line to avoid paying taxes and hiring illegals to work around their gated communities. Joe is probably calling-in from the golf course while we're working.

      • Sean

        What is a troth? Did you mean trough? Learning IS more important than earning, that's why we spend most of our summer in Professional Development programs.
        If we had year round schooling teachers would have to get paid a lot more. You're adding 2 months (half of June and August and all of July) to the 185 days for which teachers are paid. And I assume "dived" is supposed to be divide.
        I do have a full time job. I help students to be future ready, so they have a choice of going to college or working.

  • Dee

    On Rep.Pike's e-mail, as I keep rereading her open letter I find myself unable to come up with a short sweet rebuttal other than I do pay taxes as a teacher. However, I found I could not put into words all I wanted to say so I will leave it to Michael Shermer, “We want to be open-minded enough to accept radical new ideas when they occasionally come along, but we don't want to be so open-minded that our brains fall out.” My brains have not fallen out even if it is summer.

  • Christina G.

    I am with her on this, I do not get but 2 paid holidays (i work all others) & deal with ADULT children, who are really a bunch of self-righteous assholes who think everyone around them owes them. I do not get a cost of living raise. In fact I was reduced by $4.75 per hour through no fault of my own w/the same company of 7yrs. I did not complain about it, I moved on with my position. You don't go into teaching for the money, even I know better & I am not an educator.
    And at the end of the day they need to stop with their boo effin hooing, it's NOT a Republican view, its a plain obvious view & she was the only one to stop worrying about who's feeling she hurts & speak what alot of us think. Those who don't like my view..IDC

      • Ralph

        Yeah, vote for an air-head with bleached blonde hair. no wonder the Republichickens can't come up with good candidates.

    • Sean

      I'm a teacher. I don't get paid holidays. I am paid for 185 days a year. Yes, the hourly rate looks good, but I can't tell you the last time I only worked the 35 hours per week for which I'm paid. The state has cut my pay several times since I started teaching in 2001. I didn't complain about it. I moved on with my position. I'm not in teaching for the money and this is not a commentary on teacher salaries. Pike has no respect for teachers, and you know what, I can't find a teacher alive right now who respects her, no matter how "hot" she may be (to reference one reply).

    • Allen

      I worked for 32 1/2 years, never received a paid holiday, nor a paid vacation. And yes, I was a union member, and because of non paid holidays and vacations, I am drawing a very nice retirement check and also have excellent health coverage, along with prescription medicine included.

      But like a typical GOP member and a union hater, Liz comes across like what she actually is, a shrill mouth piece for the conservatives.

  • melissa

    I am a teacher. I need more pay. I barely have enough money to cover bills, I don't spend the money I do have loosely-rarely going out or buying new things. I don't waste money on smoking or drinking. I definitely do not have enough money to save for the future. However, I am one of those who enjoys teaching. It's not about money, its about the kids. However, the kids need materials, food, etc. and I can't get those or pay bills with my joy. I work 35+ hours a week, usually alone (meaning not with another adult) most times I don't get a break which means I don't use the bathroom for a good 5+ hours each day). I also teach during the summer. I just to have a school district job where I didn't work during the summer, but I went to graduate school during those summers- paying for it out of my own pocket. Now I am back teaching in the summers. When I go home to my 2 roommates, I hear them talk about how as a waitress or an employee of a computer company they ride bikes, have lunch dates, check facebook, chat with their coworkers. I am not saying that these workers don't work, they do and they do a great job. But when I hear these workers talk about how its either work for money or work for what you enjoy and ask the question do you work in a low pay job if you enjoy the work answering with no, I just want to scream! Many people work for enjoyment not money. Some people actually get to enjoy a well paying job, that is awesome and not a fault. I think what is important here is that yes some teachers do make more money than others. Some teachers do a better job then others. That's life. What's not "fair" is that people of any job should be able to pay bills. It is the responsibility of the government to make sure the people can live comfortable (as in not paycheck to paycheck). How would society be if everyone had enough money to put into the system and live. Would they have a better attitude, would crime be down, would drug use be down, would people be more willing to help others throughout the world? Perhaps we only have to look at those (individuals and countries) who already live such a priceless life. Once the adults learn this lesson perhaps we can teach our kids to honor money, respect people and enjoy work,

  • Dick

    Republicans want a stooopid population so hey can keep getting elected. Like that doofus Michelle Bachmann, what has she done for America? Just a bible beating idiot and her voice is so annoying. GOP, shut up.

  • Karen

    I have known several teachers. Most of them spend money out of their own pockets to supplement things that the schools don't provide. Most of them work 8 to 10 hours per day with no overtime. In the summer hiatus many take classes or work at a summer job. After school is out and before school starts each year they need to give a plan to the principal so she can know what to expect from each class. Many stay after class every day to help students who are falling behind because of the huge class sizes. Many of us have the good fortune to choose what we want to do and put in our 40-50 hours per week, take our vacations etc. I would never put down the people we charge with teaching our children. It is a thankless enough task with all the problems with budget and parents who want the schools to parent their children. Before you start casting stones look in the mirror.

  • R. J. Mohrhauser

    I live in a small town where very few of the teachers have degrees, only certificates, and reading what they get paid plus benefits, and retirement are somewhat over the top. One teacher I know , received a retirement income in the high 70 thousands, I worked in the private sector as a sales rep in high ticket sales , as a dept. mgr., and as a trainer for over 40 years, my retirement, 13,000 per year. This teacher earned salary comparable to mine during those working years. Rep. Pike is a rare specimen in politics, she has the balls to say what she thinks instead of kissing butt to please everyone. Agreed ,there does exist many very dedicated teachers, but very few politicians like her. Look at the teachers union in Chicago, and in many other school districts, there definitely does exist a problem in the field of education, and it's name is , The Teachers Union.

    • MDG

      That isn't possible, as it is illegal to hold a teaching credential (certificate) without a four year degree. Someone gave you incorrect information.

  • Harvey

    Ah ha, the agenda of the Republican party is revealed again. I wonder when people are going wise-up and quit voting for these uncreative stinkers? Get to work in Olympia – you are wasting our time and money.

  • Mindy

    Unless you're a teacher or the spouse or child of one, you just don't get it. People have no idea how much time we put in during the school year, which more than equals our summer's off. However, if you want to find out why U.S. Schools are supposedly "failing," the answer is easy. Politicians, not educators, make most of the decisions regarding public education. Teachers are the last consulted, but first blamed. Gee, I wonder if she is the product of a public school education. i wonder who taught her how to read and write? Probably, an underpaid, overworked teacher.

  • teacherbiz

    An Open Letter to WA State Representative Liz Pike

    Dear Ms. Pike,

    Your “open letter to public educators” is an extended contradiction and a wild display of ignorance.

    So let me get this straight. You claim that you “encourage folks to choose a job they love,” yet you say you “chose to work a career in private sector business so that [you] could be one of those tax payers who funds [teachers’] salaries and benefits as a state employee in a local school district.” Really? That’s why you “chose” your career–to fund teachers' salaries and benefits? How generous of you! How would your boss feel about this statement (which, by the way, doesn't even make sense), though? And even if you hadn’t chosen to work in the private sector, wouldn’t you still be a taxpayer? I’m just confused.

    Then you say that if you could do it all over again, you’d choose to become a teacher “so that [you] too could enjoy summertime off with [your] children, spring break vacations, christmas break vacations, paid holidays, a generous pension and health insurance benefits.” Really? You'd become an educator not so you could inspire children and do your part to change our society for the better, but so you could have summers and holidays off? (By the way, the “C” in Christmas should be capitalized.) Anyway, I’m glad, for the sake of our children, that you chose the private sector. This statement alone shows your deep-seated resentment of teachers, the shallowness of your priorities, and the complete lack of understanding you have about what it takes to be a teacher. You must be really unhappy with your career choice if you’d go back in time and abandon it in favor of a job you clearly know nothing about and have no respect for.

    You thank teachers for their service to schools, and then you deride the very public school system in which they work, saying it “continues to plummet when compared to worldwide education standards.” You bash the professional unions to which teachers belong, insisting that those unions “only care about the adults in the system.” You’re kidding, right? Please remember that unions are made up of teachers. To suggest that teachers only care about themselves is an offensive generalization—a stereotype, even—that is just as offensive as calling all politicians corrupt. (Does that offend you?) Please, save the false praise you throw into this letter; it is disingenuous and insulting.

    You suggest that teachers who are “dissatisfied” with their pay and benefits look elsewhere for employment so that “someone who is inspired to greatness can take their place in the classroom.” Are you suggesting that a teacher who seeks fair pay for his work is somehow uninspired in his job? How are the two connected? Further, are you suggesting that private sector workers don’t seek pay increases, better benefits, or other things that are in their and their families’ best interest?

    You hope that teachers will inspire their students to “reach their full intellectual potential and learn the value of true leadership in our community.” If “true leadership in our community” is what you feel you demonstrate in your role as an elected official, perhaps you should begin by respecting public education, which is a cornerstone of our democratic society and the heart of our communities, instead of vilifying those who work so hard to improve it.

    I very much agree that “our children deserve an exceptional and inspired teacher in every classroom.” But how can you expect exceptional and inspired teachers to enter the profession when people like you publicly—and viciously—criticize it?

    I’m a proud teacher and a proud union member. I’m passionate about the children and the subject matter I teach, and my colleagues, who are also proud teachers and union members, are equally passionate. I’m disgusted by the ignorance your post exudes and the complete disregard you have for the institution of public education and the devoted teachers who do their jobs each day even when they’re faced with issues (like poverty, inequality, reformers who know nothing about education, and corporations that have a financial interest in our schools and their students) that threaten students’ ability to succeed.

    Please stop painting teachers as being greedy and uninspired. Instead, please help fix the problems facing public education in an effort to support those who work their hardest each and every day to improve it.

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