Liz Thompson states January 9, "For all the talk of low pay, these salaries look pretty healthy. I know I'm going to hear from the Teacher Association President, Claude Sasse, about that comment, but that's ok." Well, as of this writing Ms. Thompson, has not heard from the Washington County Teachers Association. WCTA leadership was not solicited as a partner in production of stories about teachers. Moreover, Ms. Thompson has not clarified the "reader feedback" the Herald-Mail uses as criteria for writing future stories (Sasse, December 4, 2004). Reporter Scott Butki indicts me on that same date in all three of his stories. But I believe the stage was set to exclude WCTA leadership from even a "bit part" in the January production
As WCTA President, I do have a query for Ms. Thompson. Which salaries "look pretty healthy" the teachers or the administrators? Looking about 26 miles to the east, I see far "healthier" teacher pay checks. While only 13.8% of Washington County's teachers earn $60,000 or more a year, 41% of Frederick County's teachers earn that figure and over.
Additionally, Ms. Thompson may wish to think about her sentiments about teachers, and perhaps the newspaper's as well, since the Maryland Public Policy Institute recently revealed that between 1992 and 2002, "increases in administrative spending in Washington County greatly outpaced increases in instructional spending between 1992 and 2002" (Herald-Mail, January 15, 2005). While instructional spending increased 24.78% during that decade, administrative spending more than doubled at 53.11%. An astute reader must wonder what costs are within "additional earnings" in the 2004 "Administrative Salaries" table.
Citing the median household income for the area as $43,300, Ms. Thompson comments that teachers' salaries are "not bad." But information that could discount her opinion comes from two tables published in the editorial section of the Herald-Mail in 2004. Both factors impact the median household income and could serve to discredit Ms. Thompson's "not bad" assertion.
The more recent table reveals poverty levels for 8 tri-state cities, as well as the poverty level for the United States.
Hagerstown, MD 1401 families15.5%
Frederick, MD 614 families4.8%
Martinsburg, WV 847 families14.7%
Charles Town, WV 106 families13.2%
Berkeley Springs, WV 22 families13.4%
Chambersburg, PA 432 families9.8%
Waynesboro, PA 181 families7.0%
Greencastle, PA 51 families4.9%
United States 6,620,945 families9.2%
Hagerstown's poverty level of 15.5% is the highest of the 8 cities listed. Frederick's 4.8% the lowest. The ratio of poverty in Hagerstown when compared to that of Frederick is 3:1. Compared to the United States, Hagerstown poverty for families is 5.9% higher.
The other table shows the percentage of residents over 25 with Bachelors' Degrees in 7 tri-state counties:
Washington County, MD14.6%
Frederick County, MD30.0%
Franklin County, PA 14.8%
Fulton County, PA9.3%
Berkeley County, WV15.1%
Jefferson County, WV14.8%
Morgan County, WV11.2%