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posted: 7/5/2011 9:00 PM

Passionate teachers earned pensions

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I don't know you, Mr. Jim Marks (Suburban teachers have it too good 6-21-11), but it sounds to me that you have a bad case of "sour grapes."

I entered education over 50 years ago because I believe in the powerful influence of guidance, leadership and the lessons learned from the written word. My teacher/ guidance counselor husband and I raised five children-three of them teachers. I believe collectively we have made a difference. Did I enjoy my summers you ask, Mr. Marks? I certainly did.

But during the years I taught, I burned the midnight oil almost daily -- especially during holiday and spring breaks. I graded innumerable essay tests, themes and daily journals. You see, I taught high school English and the work didn't stop with bells and dismissals at the end of the school day: overtime bonuses I never received.

Am I looking for sympathy -- never. I loved what I did and that is why I never left the classroom for more lucrative pay. Those summers off (all two months) were well earned. Yes, now I have a pension and I do feel a relative security in my retirement; but there is always concern as state budgets are constantly being adjusted.

But not all of us realize the money we have earned. My husband died suddenly last December -- never to receive the full amount of the over 35 years he paid into the Illinois Teacher Retirement System. I might add that not all of the nonteaching sector are as bitter as you Mr. Marks.

Many parents were appreciative of my efforts to work with their children in the challenging high school years. Perhaps you have children who are recipients of dedicated teaching; or maybe you recall a memorable educator who made a difference in your life.

Thank them sometime.

Thank you, Mr. Marks, for stirring the old teaching "fires of enthusiasm" that I still have. Have a nice summer.

Kathleen Breault


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