South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

Hilmer’s courage to speak out is ‘for the kids,’ letter writer contends

To the editor:

When Mehlville Fire Protection District Board of Directors Chairman Aaron Hilmer last brought up the issue of public pensions at the fire district, there was an outcry from those who claimed it was a matter of life and death.

The defined-benefit plan was replaced with the defined-contribution plan and the district and taxpayers were much better off for it.

Hilmer’s latest column about teachers’ pensions has drawn a similar response from our educators who claim they deserve such a generous pension because their job is so important and difficult.

Teaching our children is definitely a noble profession, but does it deserve special benefits that the rest of us do not receive?

What would our quality of life be without the other skills?

If your sewer line breaks or your toilet backs up, you call a plumber. Life would be pretty “crappy” without those skills.

Without an electrician you couldn’t enjoy television, computers, lights and refrigeration.

Have you ever seen an auto mechanic after a day of working on a 150-degree engine on a hot summer day — hands cut up and covered from head to toe in greasy dirt, but without your car how would you get to work, the doctor or the grocery store?

I could go on but I think you get the point. All professions and skilled labor are equally important in our society, so why do teachers claim that their job is more important and that they work harder than the rest of us?

Our teachers work in an air-conditioned classroom and never get their hands dirty.

They don’t have to work nights or weekends. They are paid for every major holiday and enjoy a spring break, Thanksgiving break, Christmas break and can enjoy three months of summer off.

Does that sound like a more difficult work schedule than you have?

I’ve read their complaints that they paid for their own schooling and that they have taken additional night courses to further their careers. Well guess what, so have the rest of us — nothing unique there.

And what about the results of our teachers’ efforts? Sadly, the United States has fallen behind the rest of the developed world in the education basics. When our kids graduate after 12 years of school, they are qualified to do what — go on to college? While I’m not opposed to higher education, you’d think that our kids would be qualified for something more than just more school.

Every taxpayer should watch the documentary “Waiting for Superman” to learn more about our education system and how the teachers’ unions have affected our children’s future.

I’m sure there will be more teachers who will respond to this letter, but the conclusions as I see it are pretty clear. Teachers do not work harder than the rest of us and their job is not more important. Our teachers have a great work environment and they enjoy a schedule that the rest of us envy. We pay our teachers a salary and benefit package that is more generous than what is available in the private sector.

What really bothers me is when they use our kids as pawns to justify demands of increasing salary and benefits for themselves — and that needs to change.

I appreciate Aaron Hilmer for having the courage to discuss this issue with the taxpayers. He’s not asking for anything for himself and doesn’t personally benefit from reforming these out-of-date pension packages, so he must be doing it “for the kids” and “for their futures” and for that I thank him.

Jim Smoot

south county

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