Re Owen Smitherman's letter (Feb. 24):
I do not know where he received his information concerning salaries for teachers and teaching assistants, but I do know that he is wrong! A teacher must have a Masters degree and six years' teaching experience to make that $30,000 a year he talked about.
In regard to the teaching assistants and the salary of more than $17,000, do we wish this were true! I've been a teaching assistant for 17 years in Richmond County and definitely do not come close to $17,000 a year.
This year we were cut from 190 days to 180. We are paid for 180 days of work, which is divided by 12 months to allow us a monthly salary. The most a Rank II T.A. can make at the end of 16 years is $13,500; Rank I T.A.s make only $12,756. These salaries are before deductions of insurance (which we pay for), teacher's retirement, Social Security, federal and state taxes, etc. As for the guaranteed annual wage increase, after 16 years in the system there are no more steps up in pay.
If Mr. Smitherman would work in the schools for one week, he would see that our jobs are not the bed of roses he thinks they are. It is because of people with his attitude that the students of today carry this same attitude to school. This leads to the lack of respect we endure in our jobs for those fantastic salaries that Mr. Smitherman thinks we make. ...
Linda F. Swint, Augusta