Political Beat

Rep. Pike spurs Facebook debate over teacher wages

State Rep. Liz Pike, R-Camas, prompted a heated discussion on her Facebook page after posting an “open letter to public educators” on Friday that some Facebook users called condescending to teachers.

Addressing public school teachers who want state legislators to approve a cost of living increase for teachers, Pike wrote:

“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.”

So far, Pike’s post has drawn more than 200 comments, many of them critical of the tone Pike took.

“I’m speechless! It’s summer but I’m still in my classroom cleaning and planning for next year,” Shelley Houle wrote. “I have never been so offended in my life!”

Another commenter, Jeff Johson, wrote: “No one becomes a professional educator in order to become rich. They help kids. Also, the vast majority of teachers now have master’s degrees, or the credit equivalent thereof, and yet they’re some of the poorest paid workers when compared with fellow professionals who have similar amounts of education. Please, direct your bitter sarcasm elsewhere. Teachers are good people and are definitely NOT the cause of our economic woes.”

Pike was elected to the Washington House of Representatives last fall. She serves on the House Education Committee.

“My positions were clearly stated in my year long campaign before I was elected and they should come as no surprise,” Pike wrote in her post.

Here’s Pike’s Facebook post in its entirety:

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”

Stevie Mathieu

Stevie Mathieu is a political writer at The Columbian. Contact her at 360-735-4523 or stevie.mathieu@columbian.com or www.facebook.com/reportermathieu or www.twitter.com/col_politics.

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