For the past 10 years I have been a physical education teacher in Richmond County. I love my job; I love my kids. I graduated from Augusta State University, and I tell people all the time that becoming a teacher is the best thing that has ever happened to me. I thank my wife every day for insisting that I go back to school and finish my degree. I drive to work each morning proudly displaying my "educator" tag on the back of my truck.
Teachers are caught in the same economic crunch as everyone else during these trying times. In January 2009, the state changed insurance plans, and the copays, deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses all skyrocketed along with the premiums. So now, we get less for a lot more. We no longer get a cost-of-living raise, but we do get a cost-of-living increase.
The proposed budget this year has eight furlough days, which means that this year we will get eight days less pay. Essentially, I now make less money than I did two years ago.
This week, I opened my yearly auto tag renewal notice and discovered that I am required to pay $35 per year for my "educator" tag, up from $25. This was passed into law by the Georgia General Assembly under House Bill 1055 and signed into law by Gov. Sonny Perdue.
There are close to 100,000 teachers in Georgia, give or take a couple thousand. Many of us display the "educator" tag. This means that, in the past, these tags have been produced in large numbers. It is not like we all want a different specialty tag. I strongly feel that this is a slap in the face to teachers.
For those of you who would like to see this portion of H.B. 1055 changed during the next General Assembly, call me. It can be done. I am in the book.
C. Wayne Owens