Senator Scott Wagner of York PA recently remarked that if we laid off 10% of all the teachers in the state, we would never miss them.  I emailed him this response:

Dear Senator Wagner,
I write to object to your remarks about teachers in PA.  As a high school teacher, I find your suggestion that we could lay off 10% of us and never miss them insulting and uninformed.  In fact our schools are understaffed.  Our class sizes are through the roof.  Teachers make a difference every day in the lives of each of our students.  Those kids would miss their teachers.  Paying teachers a decent wage ensures that young people will take up this amazing, difficult, rewarding, thankless work. To work as hard as we do only to be thrown under the bus by those who ought to know better just seems to be part of the job these days, but to hear such ignorant remarks from a legislator is uncalled for.  Do you not know that in states like Arizona and S.C., where legislators have made the lives of teachers unbearable by de-staffing schools, instituting impossible “accountability” systems, and generally excoriating teachers publicly as you have just done, they have a massive and growing teacher shortage?  Who is going to want to be a teacher when they hear folks say what you just did?
One wonders if we would miss our legislators if we were to lay of 10% or 25% or 50% of them.
I am very sorry to hear your erroneous thoughts made public.  I urge you to visit a public school in your district and talk to some teachers.  We are doing excellent work under difficult circumstances.  I regret that you cannot see that.
Sincerely yours,
Katherine Good Semisch,
English teacher

And now that I reread it, I see that I’ve taken some cheap shots and not fully addressed his concerns.  As an English teacher, someone who teaches people writing, I have to believe that a good argument, well stated, in respectful tones can change minds.  I know that such arguments have changed my mind.

So I’m going to go back and write a better letter and print it out and send it by mail to Senator Wagner.  When I get it written, I’ll post it.