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Voice: Imperial teachers never rejected 8 percent raise

January 25, 2002

Dear Ms. Elydia Gonzalez:

I have just finished reading your letter castigating T.J. Hepburn and the other 131 members of the Imperial Teachers Association for having the audacity to think the job they do is important, even vital to the community.

Since I am one of those teachers you referenced in your broadside, and you are such a scrupulous fact-checker, I thought I'd offer the following salient points for your consideration:

While it is true that teachers are seeking an 8 percent salary schedule increase, plus compensation for additional days, it is provably false that they have rejected that same amount (since it was never offered). As for the contention that teachers only work 180 days and take a paid vacation for the remainder of the year, the reality is their compensation is tied to the school year, which is 10 months. What they do with the other two months is entirely up to them, but many forgo the break and teach summer school (because they need the money).

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If you truly believe that teachers in Imperial only work from 8 a.m. until the final bell rings in the afternoon, then you need to do a little more research (maybe your contacts within the administration can clear this up for you).

Did you know, for example, that an independent analysis conducted by the California Teachers Association revealed that Imperial's unrestricted fund balance stands at six times more than what is recommended by the state? The truth is that money is being sent by the state to the school district to boost teachers' salaries and enhance students' educational opportunities. Unfortunately, it isn't finding its way to the teachers or students, which may be OK with you, but it doesn't sit very well with them (and it shouldn't be allowed by the people of Imperial).

So just remember this, Ms. Gonzalez: School board members don't teach children, and neither do their high-priced administrators. But teachers do, usually without fanfare and often without compensation. You, of course, have a right to your opinion, but you also have a responsibility to be truthful.

Or would you have this standard apply only to teachers?

KATHRYN MEYER

ITA vice president

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