We Can’t All Be Bad Teachers, Can We?

A new coworker expressed this thought a couple weeks ago when a few of us gathered to chat after school. Sometimes we call these “vent sessions” or “unloading.” This particular session stemmed partially from decisions out of our control.

This year the administration decided to split the school on the basis of test scores. Each grade level has two teams, one titled “G/T – Gifted/Talented,” the other “Inclusion.” Although not formally labeled as such, this boils down to a research-disproven method called “tracking.”

This single decision has already acted as the proverbial pebble dropped into the still pond with further ripples yet to come. Some of the potentially adverse consequences already visible are as follows. First, the students have already begun to internalize the unspoken labels, especially those on the “inclusion” team. Second, classes lack the diversity of ability levels that has been proven by research to benefit lower-performing students who teeter on the brink of improvement. Third, almost all of the neediest students, from English language ability to those with a variety of learning disabilities, are grouped in the same classes. At some point, not every student in the class can have preferential (ie front row) seating. Fourth, everyone looks askance at the teachers on the G/T team if they express any sort of issue. “But you have the good kids!”

Then comes the biggie, the assessments. I touched on this several weeks ago and want to return to it briefly.

This split system means the following with regards to the assessments. For the inclusion teacher, she faces the daunting reality of a roster full of students who did not meet state standards, did not even approach meeting state standards. She, thus, has the Herculean task of bringing students who score so low on reading tests that they do not have a lexile level. For the seventh grade English teacher that means trying to teach things like context clues when every word is unfamiliar or teaching them how to analyze a text they cannot read.

Some of the G/T teacher’s students deal with some of the same things too. Many of them scored much higher but that is relative in a school like mine. The baseline, unspoken, unconscious expectation for the G/T teacher is that she is expected to bring the students all the way up to grade level and possibly beyond. Don’t get me wrong. That’s what I want for them. I also want to set them up for success, not failure. When we express frustration, or try to tailor to the abilities of our students, we’re met with that question I mentioned earlier.

Then comes planning and pacing. Both of teachers for each grade level, especially the inclusion teacher need time to reteach material. After all, each time the administration talks about the required benchmarks or similar subjects, they stress to us the importance and requirement of reflective teaching. Look back on your lessons. Figure out what went right or wrong.

We would love to do that and would actually do that, save for the pacing guide. In those same meetings, although not directly connected, the administration also stresses the importance of sticking with the pacing guide or else. Last year, I nearly got reprimanded for being two days behind the pacing guide, only weeks after two snow days. On top of all that, administration expects us to move at the exact same pace as our partner, even with the split in academic levels of the students.

All of this leads to potentially extensive frustration and burn out. Not all schools have these same issues. Some schools have similar ones. Some have issues completely foreign to these. That being said, these issues all point back to a bigger issue, that of evaluation of teacher performance based on student abilities as measured by assessment data alone.

Teachers internalize this. From the very beginning of our education in teaching, this is ingrained in us. This can produce beneficial results. A good teacher is a reflective teacher. We look at each lesson in light of how the lesson benefited or did not benefit the students. This is how a person learns and grows. This beneficial process becomes distorted when the assessments measure the wrong thing. When a teacher is repeatedly told that success equals mastery, the color red and the word “remediation” signals the poor performance of the teacher, not the student. Thus, the comment that the serves as the title for this post.

This post addresses a systematic problem in education. As such, I have no satisfactory answers. I want to find them though. Our students deserve that.

Race 13.1 Charlotte 2017 – Race Recap

Race #134
Half Marathon #42
North Carolina Half Marathon #7
2017 Race #17
2017 Half Marathon #7
Race 13.1 Charlotte Half Marathon #1

I had no intention of running another half marathon two weeks out from Chicago. Then I registered for 13.1 Greenville and got sucked in with the offer of additional bling. If I ran both Greenville and Charlotte, I would complete the “I-85 Challenge” and earn an additional medal. I am a sucker for half marathons, especially with extra bling.

Originally Mom was going to go up with me but I forgot to mention that unlike the race two weeks ago, this race took place on Sunday, not Saturday. She had a meeting at church which she had to attend. I almost said “forget about it. I’ll just run in Greenville on Saturday.” I wasn’t super keen on driving up to Charlotte and racing on my own. However, I decided to go ahead and go.

Emily, Ellis’ oldest daughter, lives in Fort Mill, only 20 minutes from the race start. She graciously opened her house to me so that I could drive up Saturday night.

After a good night’s sleep, I headed over to the start, ready to run.

Unlike two weeks ago, I had no specific plan for this race. I thought about trying to maintain an 8:30 pace (my new marathon goal pace) rather than an 8:00 pace. When I checked to see which pace groups would be available, I decided to just run by effort instead of trying to stick to a specific pace. I have found that when I am in charge of making myself run a certain pace, I check my Garmin far too often which makes it much tougher mentally.

Although I started a little further back than I would have liked, congestion was not a problem.

We started on time and headed out on the course. Since I did not have a specific goal other than a vague sense of running at an 8:30 pace, I did not take the time to look at the course ahead of time. I assumed that it would be a straight out and back like Greenville two weeks ago.

A few rolling hills populated the first few miles, nothing too terrible.

Mile 1: 8:15
Mile 2: 8:02

Somewhere in the third mile we entered the trail. This race had just about every possible type of surface. On the trail we had boardwalk, pavement, cement, and hard-packed gravel/dirt at various points. I liked the switch up of surfaces. Plus, the trail section was absolutely gorgeous. So pretty.

Mile 3: 8:20
Mile 4: 8:24
Mile 5: 8:22

A little after we finished the fifth mile, we exited the trail and headed back out onto the road, mainly through various neighborhoods. I had just started to wonder if maybe the course wasn’t a straight out and back because I hadn’t seen any signs for the mile markers that we would pass coming back.

We exited the trail onto a terrible hill. Absolutely terrible. I knew it was going to suck. I told myself to slow down, to let it suck and then be over with. The problem with that? The hill felt like it lasted forever. I ended up walking a little as I approached the summit but only because my legs had just about had it.

As soon as I arrived at the summit, I started running again and never looked back, figuratively speaking.

I felt a little mentally exhausted in those early miles, like I wanted to go back to sleep. (Well, I actually did want to go back to sleep….) Sometime after that hill in mile 6, I forgot about the need for sleep (until time to write this post, of course).

Mile 6: 8:56 (Stayed under 9!)

The rest of the half felt really good. I settled in to what turned out to be an average 8:20ish pace and felt strong. The scenery continued to be beautiful, even the neighborhood portions. My body forgot the earlier exhaustion and instead remembered all the training I have put in.

When the turn around came a couple miles later than the half way point, my earlier suspicions of a quasi-loop, quasi-out and back course were confirmed. As the runners started coming back, I counted the women to figure out my standings. At the turn around I was the 34th woman. I decided to make a goal of finishing at least in the top 3p women.

Mile 7: 8:40d
Mile 8: 8:15
Mile 9: 8:33

I still felt good and now found myself on the homestretch. After we passed mile marker 11 and had only 2 miles remaining, I decided to see how many people I could “pick off” aka pass before I got to the finish line.

I also breathed a sigh of relief when I realized that we would not have to tackle that monster hill again.

As I came through the final miles I felt strong. My legs felt prepared to run this pace, a pace that if I could translate it to the marathon would put me coming in roughly around my PR. Wow. I am so happy to be back at this level, potentially. It’s been a long road back (which I’ll save for a later post.)

When we made the final turn for the finish line, I still had gas in my tank and a guy just a little bit ahead of me. Why not? I poured on a full-fledged sprint and beat him to the line!

Mile 10: 8:34
Mile 11: 8:17
Mile 12: 8:22
Mile 13: 8:13
.19: 6:57
Final time: 1:50:32

I am absolutely thrilled with this time and extremely glad that I decided to go ahead and race. Much needed Chicago confidence boost.

Race Review

Registration and Packet Pick Up
Race day packet pick up went off without a hitch! Everything was well laid out, just like Greenville.

Race Shirt
This shirt looks just as awesome as the one from Greenville. This one does not have “FINISHER” on the front. I look forward to adding it to my collection.

Prerace/morning (evening) amenities
The start/finish location, although in a parking lot, was decked out by the race organizers complete with a DJ and customer support tent. (This was the same as Greenville.)

Course and course support
I really enjoyed this course. Race 13.1 had plenty of monitors and police out making sure runners went the right way. The only tricky section came near the turn around when we went acros a bridge that was barely wide enough for two runners. This wouldn’t be a problem for most of the course but this bridge was in the out and back portion with runners going both directions.

Finish line and Post Race Amenities
The start and finish line were well stocked with the DJ still going strong. All sorts of things were available from water to fruit snacks to Papa John’s pizza. Now, I like pizza just as much as the next person but I do not understand the appeal of room temperature pizza at 9 in the morning. I am an odd duck though. (This is the same as Greenville.)

Official photography should be available within a few days. (Same as Greenville)

You could not escape from this race without knowing your results. Not only do they text you but they have an instant results tent where you can look up your bib number and print out your results including age group breakdown. It also updates nearly immediately. (Same as Greenville)

Connotation versus Denotation

As an English teacher and an author, words are my area of expertise, my happy place. My love for words goes way back. I often revel in the rich texture and complexity of words, the layers of connotation added by culture and personal experience.

Recently, I once again delved into discussions of connotation and denotation with my seventh graders. This concept often flies straight over their heads, the first time at least. Each time I teach this concept, I learn how to convey the information a little better. This year I related to my opening monologue and current mantra, “words have power.”

How do words wield that power? From what source comes that power? Simply put, words wield that power through connotation, the source of its power. We each bring our cultural associations and personal memories. When wielding that power we also need to be aware of the context in which we speak, deferring to our fellow human beings, whose story we do not know.

When teaching this lesson I asked how we would know the connotation of the words people speak to us. They correctly identified facial expressions and tone of voice. I then asked how we would know if those words were written down, not spoken. They struggled with this but gradually figured it out. We discern the connotation of a word based on what surrounds it, the context clues.

So many people struggle with understanding connotations, even adults, some may say especially adults. The day I taught my seventh graders briefly about connotation, my dad posted an article about the gentrification of Greenville. I happened to see this as I scrolled through Facebook and stopped to read the comments after a completely egregious response caught my attention.

This man made blanket, sweeping statements, as he often does, about a people group concerning the cause of their poverty. As I responded, I pointed out the connotations of his words and the logical fallacy of his argument. Each time he responded, he persisted in devotion to a distorted interpretation of the denotation of the word “most.” Not once did he acknowledge that other people have personal memories and emotions tied up in those sweeping racist aspersions cast under the cloak of the word, “most.”

I came away from that conversation full of pity and sorrow for this man I have never met in person. I have no idea what it must be like to live in a world devoid of color and meaning. This conversation, that at times brought me nearly to baldness, deepened my own understanding of connotation. When a person takes the time to pause and examine the context in which he speaks or listens not only will that person derive deeper, fuller meaning, but he will also develop compassion for and empathy with the other conversation participant, a fellow human being also made in the image of God.

By slowing down to ponder the connotation another person brings to the conversation, I lower myself. I do not persist in the fallacious belief that I have all the right answers. I do not push down others in an effort to prove that I am right by hammering others over the head with a dictionary. “Christmas” means a whole lot more than “the annual Christian festival celebrating Christ’s birth, held on December 25th in the Western Church” to someone who lost a loved one on that day.

It’s hard to build a relationship with someone if all you care about is proving your point. It is even more difficult to share the amazing grace of the Good News to a person who believes that you care nothing for their struggles. In the end, yes, connotation is a literary term taught in schools from upper elementary school through college. I could memorize what it means and even how to “use” it on a test to guess the meaning of a word. However, when I slow down and ponder its power and implications, I come away challenged to put others first, to listen well.

Words Have Power

The night before the first day of school I had my second brilliant eureka moment concerning this school year. The idea turned into a monologue that set the stage for what will no doubt be my best school year yet.

During our last teacher workday my principal held up a handful of pencils and told us that we would find some in our box the next morning to give to the students. Although those pencils failed to materialize, that comment planted the seed of an idea in my mind.

As I attempted to calm my mind enough to sleep, I started to imagine what I would say to each class after I handed them the pencils. I often daydream like this, perhaps it’s my overactive mind’s way of burning off all the excess thoughts spinning circles up there. What started as a half-formed thought became one of the most amazing moments of my teaching career so far, an experience repeated in each class period.

I introduced myself with a few pictures and then told them that I was about to introduce them to ELA. I walked over to my desk and picked up one of my own mechanical pencils.

“What is this?” I asked.

“A lead pencil,” many of them answered, unsure of where I was going with this.

“It’s pretty ordinary right? I could probably break it if I wanted to but I don’t; I like my pencils. What if I told you this is the most powerful tool in the world?”

When I paused for effect, no one answered. I had them right where I wanted. The feeling was so surreal. That level of engagement, which continued to deepen, nearly overwhelmed me. I have trouble thinking of another time that has ever happened in my classroom before.

I continued.

“This pencil can be wielded to write words and words have power. Take for example, my name. I’m sure that most of you thought it difficult to pronounce when you first read it on your schedule. Who has ever heard of Armenia?”

Unsurprisingly, not a single student had. When I asked if any had ever heard of the Khardashians, it was a far different story.

“Armenia is a small country to the east of Turkey. Remember Constantinople and the Byzantine Empire from social studies last year? Well, back during the time of WWI, Armenia was part of the Ottoman Empire, an empire that was dying. A new group gained power and decided that the way to fix their country was to get rid of everyone who wasn’t Turkish or Muslim.”

I had literal chills at this point when I looked out and saw the connections being made in the minds of my students, connections to history or perhaps even current events.

“Over the next four years between 900,000 and 1.5 million Armenians perished in what is considered to be the first genocide of the 20th century. My great-grandparents came to this country mere years before this started but I grew up knowing this tragic history by heart. My parents divorced when I was 10 so I grew up with my mom’s family, the Armenian side. I didn’t inherit the looks or the name but I wanted so much to identify with my heritage. I went to a lawyer, paid several hundred dollars and then my request went before a judge, all to change my last name. That’s just one word, right?”

“But words have power!” many of them responded.

“Yes! Words have power. That’s what ELA is all about this year, learning how to wield that power responsibly.”

I get chills just remembering that moment, that moment that carried outside of class when another teacher told me that a student had talked about the fact that words have power.

As I step back and reflect on those moments, I realize that this may have been the turning point for me, the point when I became passionate about the weighty prospect of teaching English Language Arts to these amazing kids. This year will, hands down, be the best year yet.

These words have power.

Race 13.1 Greenville Race Recap

Race #133
Half Marathon #41
South Carolina Half Marathon #30
2017 Race #16
2017 Half Marathon #6
Race 13.1 Greenville Half Marathon #1

I went into this race with the goal of making this a test race for Chicago training. At almost exactly a month out, this race fit perfectly into the schedule. Of course, I also want to run all the half marathons and having this new race in my “backyard” means that I would be here to run this regardless.

Mom and I pulled into University Ridge at 6:30. This turned out to be exactly the right amount of time. From the moment we walked up to the start area I was impressed. The organizers had everything set up with very little confusion possible. The time passed by speedily thanks to an excellent DJ and a quick moving portopotty line. There were a few people that tried to bypass the line and come around the other side, right as I was about to walk up to a recently emptied one. One guy even opened a door where a person still sat inside. I told him, “there’s a really long line dude.” He looked up, saw the line and said, “Oops.” I just shook my head.

When Mom asked me when I expected to finish, I hedged and told her, “definitely under two hours, maybe under 1:50.” I did not tell her that I planned to find the 1:45 pacer and stick on him like glue for as long as I possibly could. I had no idea how long I would be able to stay with him, which is why I hedged.

Race 13.1 Greenville 2017

Right on time, 7am, we were off. We headed down the hill from University Ridge into the Park and onto the Swamp Rabbit Trail. I knew that hill would suck big time at the end of the race when we had to come back up.

Race 13.1 Greenville 2017

That first mile felt like a cluster. I tried to stay with the pacer but so many people jostled back and forth, somehow unable to find their pace. One guy who had been running a couple steps ahead of me for a few tenths of a mile suddenly looked to his left, saw a gap and took off like a gazelle leaping to the left around the pacer between a couple other people and off in front of them. It looked like he was the ball in a pinball machine.

After that first mile we settled in and headed down the Swamp Rabbit Trail towards the Zoo. This meant that we would go through the section that has been closed for construction for months. I used to hate that janky bridge that crossed the river down there. The bridge consisted of metal grates that bounced as you ran over them. Several other times that I have run through that section I have slowed to a cautious jog over that bridge. The janky bridge survives no longer. Wow Greenville. This section looks so impressive and they aren’t done yet! It will be beautiful and there will be bathrooms on the trail! That’s something the downtown section of the Swamp Rabbit has lacked for a while.

We reached the turn around for the first section around mile 1.5. The gradual uphill began here. The only thing I kept telling myself was to keep with the pacer. Keep with the pacer.

If I want to BQ at San Francisco next year, I need to incorporate serious hill work in my training, especially with regards to mental toughness. Greenville hills have nothing compared to San Francisco.

That was when I first started entertaining thoughts about dropping back from the pacer.

We had already started some conversations though which kept me connected. The pacer asked if we had any first timers or veterans. I said that I was running my 41st. The pacer reached back with the 1:$5 sign and joked, “here, you should take this.”

David, the pacer, told us that he ran even splits and he was true to his word. All of my splits when I ran with him *spoiler alert* were within 7 seconds of each other.

Mile 1: 7:56
Mile 2: 8:00
Mile 3: 7:57

Once we turned onto the portion of the Swamp Rabbit that headed towards Furman the incline started to level out and I got my legs back under me. The next several miles felt like a honeymoon portion. I felt fairly good even though my legs started to protest, gently. I ignored my watch and let David do the thinking.

We talked off and on throughout these miles which I enjoyed. The miles passed fairly quickly although as we approached the turnaround, not quickly enough.

Mile 4: 7:55
Mile 5: 7:55
Mile 6: 8:01
Mile 7: 8:04

We all felt like we lost a little momentum on the tight turn around just before mile 7. This is also where I started wondering just how many miles I would be able to stay with the pacer. I kept telling myself, “get to mile 8. Get to mile 9. Get to mile 10.”

Then came the hills just beyond the Swamp Rabbit Cafe. In the grand scheme of things these hills are barely inclines. When pushing for a pace that’s faster than normal in the back half of a half marathon, these hills can prove to be mountains.

I stuck with the pacer up these hills but my legs held onto the increased effort feeling tight and heavy. I just couldn’t shake it. I had come this far. A little more than 2 miles remained until the end of the race. My legs did not want any of the encouraging words David offered at that time. They clung steadfastly to the pain of the hills and would not let go.

Mile 8: 7:59
Mile 9 7:56
Mile 10 7:59
Mile 11: 7:56

When I passed the Mile 11 marker, I dropped to a walk and dropped away from the pacer.

The last two miles could best be described as a “struggle fest.” I do not regret it at all. I knew I had chosen an ambitious pace. By holding on as long as I had, I had almost guaranteed a sub-50 time.

I ended up walking again at 11.5 but then told myself to power through until the end, only 1.5 miles left. I could do this.

Then came the hill I dreaded from the moment I saw that the race started and finished in the parking lot at University Ridge. This is the hill I knew as we ran down in mile one would challenge me right up until the finish line.

When you reach this hill, all you have left of the race is a little over a quarter mile yet I had to walk again.

Once I made it out of the park I picked it up again. With the finish line now in sight, I could do this. I pushed as hard as I had left and crossed the line meeting my secondary goal, sub 1:50.

Mile 12: 8:22
Mile 13: 8:49
.2 nubbin 9:43
Overall Time: 1:46:47

Results Race13.1 Greenville 2017
I like those numbers!!

I really, really, really enjoyed this race. I hope they keep coming back to Greenville.

Race Review

Registration and Packet Pick Up
While I do not remember much about the actual registration, packet pick up went off without a hitch. I loved the location in Union Square, much easier to find than the location from 2012. I don’t even remember where that was. Oops! That was from a different race.

Race Shirt
I haven’t put the shirt on but I love the bright yellow and the technical fabric. My only complaint was with all the people wearing the shirt before the race started. The shirt has the word “FINISHER” in giant letters on the front. Clearly people, you have yet to finish the race. Yes, I am just a bit OCD.

Prerace/morning (evening) amenities
The start/finish location, although in a parking lot, was decked out by the race organizers complete with a DJ and customer support tent.

The ending hill nearly kills you although not as much as the one in the last .2 of the Marine Corps Marathon. Other than that, the Swamp Rabbit Trail provides a nice flat-ish course with a few rollers just challenging enough. Greenville runners certainly are spoiled to have the Swamp Rabbit Trail in our backyard.

Course Support
Race13.1 had plenty of pacers, which I obviously took advantage of. The out and back format of the race with plenty of runners provided a cheering squad of runners. It’s so cool to be able to cheer on people both in front and behind me. The water stops were well stocked with volunteers doing a great job.

Finish line and Post Race Amenities
The start and finish line were well stocked with the DJ still going strong. All sorts of things were available from water to fruit snacks to Papa John’s pizza. Now, I like pizza just as much as the next person but I do not understand the appeal of room temperature pizza at 9 in the morning. I am an odd duck though.

Official photography should be available within a few days.

You could not escape from this race without knowing your results. Not only do they text you but they have an instant results tent where you can look up your bib number and print out your results including age group breakdown. It also updates nearly immediately.

Statistical Manipulation

On August 28, 2017, the Greenville News published an article on the salaries of many administrators in the Greenville County School District, my employer. I do not, however subscribe to the Greenville News and thus discovered the article two days later.

I will start this entry with a disclaimer. I hold no personal grudge against the Greenville News. Before reading this particular article, I have found their work to be as objective as a news organization can reasonably produce. In fact, not a single sentence written in this article could be considered opinion.

As a historian, however, I have spent years examining and evaluating sources. IN my current role as a 7th grade English teacher, I teach my students how to examine and evaluate that which they read. After all, words have power, even words which compose factual statements or are expressed in numbers rather than letters.

In this essay, I highlight a few examples of how statistics and numbers can be manipulated both by arrangement and by omission. These facts also carry additional overtones by way of word choice. I will quote the article heavily and will also include a link to the online version so all can see the complete edition.

The first line of the article also serves as the title. “More than 100 administrators earn six figure salaries in Greenville School District.” English grammatical convention expects that numbers ten and below should be written in words. Anything higher should be expressed in numerical format. Curiously, the author, Paul Hyde, chooses the connotation laden “six figure salaries” rather than, perhaps, “more than $100,000.”

Mr. Hyde then continues to add up the numbers of the salaries of the top 100 employees. Anyone capable of basic math could figure out that 100 $100k salaries would total $10 million. Obviously, a lot of money in the Greenville County School District is allocated for salaries, a foregone conclusion for a school district this large. The district employees 10,000 people. Next, Mr. Hide points out that none of the district’s 4,000 teachers make a six figure salary. This fact is also common knowledge based on the publicly available salary schedules on the district website. (I have included the link below.) By placing this fact directly after the statement concerning the $10 million total for administrator salaries, Mr. Hyde implies that administrators earn far too much money. Nowhere does he acknowledge the fact that the increased responsibility of administrators on all levels which should indicate increased compensation. The only caveat Mr. Hyde presents is that “teachers often work on 190-day contracts while many administrators are contracted for 245 days.” Even this fact obscures the reality that both teachers and administrators work far more hours than stipulated by the contract without additional compensation.

Then there is the numbers presentation that first brought this article to my attention. As I mentioned earlier, the author presents the number of 4,000 teachers. Only a few paragraphs later, the author states, “[m]ore than 3,300 Greenville County Schools teachers and administrators make $50,000 annually or above.” This number unfairly lumps together two sets of employees paid on completely different salary schedules and thus implies that many teachers also earn too much. (I will address this further in the next paragraph.” In fact, a teacher with a bachelor’s degree would have to work 17 years to earn above $50,000, a teacher with a bachelor’s + 18 credits, 15 years, a Master’s 11 years, a Master’s + 30 credits, 8 years and a Doctorate, 4 years. Most teachers enter the profession with a bachelors. By comparison, an administrator almost always earns above $50,000. Only the administrators at the lowest level of responsibility with the least amount of experience earn below that mark. After three years, all administrators earn more than $50,000.

Mr. Hyde next presents median household income in South Carolina as well as per capita income in the state. These numbers, $47,238 and $25,627 respectively, are both invalid comparisons for the following reasons. First, the population sets compared do not match. Both numbers include all households in South Carolina, not just the households with earners that hold at least a 4 year degree, a requirement for all teachers and administrators. The per capita number includes ever person of working age, those 15 years and older. Per federal law, minors are not permitted to work full time jobs which dramatically lowers the per capita number. This population also includes those who do not work. All people employed as teachers or administrators obviously are gainfully employed.

The article concludes by listing each of the top 25 earners in the district by name also giving their job title and annual gross salary. I have long known that my pay as a government employee is public knowledge. Why do taxpayer funded positions not deserve the same right to privacy, should they want it, as anyone that works in the private sector? Granted, my personal salary could be discovered only if I either told the amount or someone knew my education level and years of experience. These 25 people did not even have that much privacy.

This leads me to my fundamental issue with this article. Why? Why did Paul Hyde write this article and the others focused on the other upstate school districts administrative salaries? In the Facebook responses to this article, when people asked this question, Mr. Hyde and the Greenville News repeatedly responded that they had a moral obligation to “shine a light” on the allocation of taxpayer funding. When anyone can access all of these pay schedules any time on the district website, I fail to see the need for anyone to “shine a light” This “light” ends up becoming a blinking strobe light in a fully lit room, blinding anyone who looks in that direction.

This article creates a distorted picture not through inaccurate or false facts but by careful juxtaposition and omission. I end with a two-fold plea. First, to Paul Hyde and the Greenville News, as journalists, please strive to maintain objectivity in your facts as well as in your presentation. Second, to the reader, read deeply. Examine the text. Ask why. Only then will you understand the whole story.

Salary Schedules
Greenville News Article