Andover Townsman, Andover, MA


October 10, 2013

Teachers' obligation to students extends beyond contract

Editor, Townsman:

Here’s a heartfelt thank-you to my friend’s daughter, an Andover High School teacher. I recently learned that she could not help her dad lead an evening program because she was very busy writing some 20 student college recommendation letters (each takes her about two hours to write). I responded that this was a wonderful compliment from her students. Then I was shocked by his reply. He said his daughter was writing so many college application letters because other teachers at the high school had refused to do so — since this task was not explicitly mandated in the teacher contract.

As a senior who has paid years of high town taxes to support the school system, I am appalled at this position, one so contrary to teacher claims that they are, and should be treated as, professional educators. The professionals that I know accept that it is their responsibility and primary obligation to do the best for their clients/patients, irrespective of whether they are indeed contractually required to do so or explicitly paid for each of their services.

In the “real” competitive private business world, this me-first attitude would not be acceptable. I suggest to these “work-to-rule” teachers that they remember Andover provides them with favorable working conditions not offered most Andover residents of comparable skill and education. Such teacher employee benefits include:

Excellent pay (some $10,000 per month based on actual classroom time) and routine raises;

Reasonable work hours (what professional do you know who regularly gets home at 3:30 p.m.?);

Lifetime job security, thanks to tenure;

Cadillac family health plans, now and until they die; and

Liberal, well-invested pensions based on their highest pay level.

For many educators, teaching in an affluent, highly educated community like Andover is a dream job. There are many supremely talented, passionate, super-educated, committed individuals who would be very happy to teach in our public schools — and to write with pride college letters for Andover’s high school students. I thank those teachers who are expressing their care and concern for our children by willingly participating in this — and other student-supportive tasks. You are much appreciated.

Lois Karfunkel

22 Orchard Crossing

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