Monday, November 22, 2010

Lisa's Response to the DET NEWS and YOU CAN WRITE TOO!!!!!

Below you will find Lisa Ellis's response to the Detroit News Editorial on Sunday, Nov. 21, 2010.
Thank you, Lisa, for allowing me to share this with the members!

If you want to read the editorial, please CLICK HERE!

If you would like to respond to this editorial yourself by emailing the Detroit News at

Here's Lisa's letter:

My heart sank, again, Sunday morning as I read the Detroit News Editorial about teachers. Once again, it has been pointed out that Michigan must balance the budget by cutting the wages and benefits of teachers to better align with the private sector. My husband is a firefighter (his department is also facing cuts) and I have been a teacher for 33 years. I’m the daughter and great niece of teachers as well. I have a Master’s Degree and am certified in 2 areas of special education. My husband and I have both worked second jobs at various times of our careers to pay for college for our 3 children – although I receive a paycheck year round, it is because I have my salary spread out that way. For most of my career, I did not receive any of my pay during months that I did not work. I arrive at work an hour before my work day begins, and usually stay another hour after my work day ends. I attend and help with many evening functions that our students and parents benefit from. Like my colleagues, I attend trainings, bring work home, and spend hundreds of dollars each year on supplies that will help my students learn.

You compare our benefits and wages to the private sector, but I cannot think of any other profession where the employees work far beyond the work day without compensation, where they attend meetings and conferences, science fairs, literacy nights, ice-cream socials, dances and concerts, and tutoring. It takes hours each week to prepare lessons that stimulate thinking, allow for differentiated instruction, and align with the district and state curriculum expectations.

Being a teacher has been tremendously gratifying. I love the moment that a 5 year old reads his first word and the pride on the face of a 6 year old who has just written a story that she has shared with her classmates. I am passionate about helping my special education students achieve their goals and I feel full of hope for every child that walks into my classroom. I work really hard at what I do, and I’m very good at it – the fact that my job is exciting, fun and rewarding is icing on the cake. I am proud of who I am and what I do for a living, and so it hurts my heart to be blamed for budget problems, for earning the wage I do, and for my benefits. When I hire a plumber or a house painter or when I go to my eye doctor or my car mechanic I go to the best person I can, and when they give me the bill, I pay it knowing that I got what I paid for. I do not begrudge those people for how they earn their living – they’ve learned their skill and have a right to charge me for it. Teaching is not volunteer work, although most teachers also do engage in volunteer work. This is how we support our families.

I’d love to show you my classroom – you keep trying to make it about the budget, but teaching isn’t about the money. It’s about the children.

Lisa Ellis
Walled Lake School District