It seems that teachers seldom write to newspaper editors discussing things that might improve education. They only seem to write when they want more money.

Cathy Grigsby’s March 14 letter was a fine example, as were the letters from two other teachers on the same day, bemoaning the “fact” that “teachers need second jobs because a beginning teacher’s salary is so low.”

First, thanks to Gov. Baldacci, it is now law that all teachers in the state start at $30,000 or higher, but that figure is for only about 180 days.

If we convert this to a normal work year of 260 days, we see that the lowest-paid beginning teacher starts at an annualized rate of about $43,300, which is a higher rate than that made by Ph.D. psychologists who work for the state.

Ms. Grigsby laments the retirement system for teachers, but their monthly retirement checks are much larger than the Social Security checks that the rest of us will have to survive on.

In fact, my teacher friends who have recently retired are making more in retirement than I am while I am still working.

Lastly, Ms. Grigsby states that she can’t recall any group other than state workers and teachers who have been asked to make sacrifices.

For years the Maine property taxpayer has had to fund the grossly increasing teacher salaries and come up with money to pay for the unrealistic benefit packages negotiated by the teachers and their unions.

Many homeowners have been unable to keep up with these greedy demands and have lost their property. Sounds like a sacrifice to me.

Don Saastamoinen


Here’s a want ad you might see someday: “Wanted: Young men and women to serve as police officers and firefighters. Work most weekends and holidays. Work overnight shifts and enjoy Tuesday and Wednesday as your days off.

“Get to meet thieves, robbers, pedophiles, wife-beaters, rapists and people who will attempt to take your life. Go into burning buildings, go onto icy roofs on a February night, attempt to survive backdrafts while searching for fire victims.”

If you take this job, you will most likely die 10 years earlier than your peers who opted to work in the dreaded private sector, where they most likely made significantly more than you and endured yearly bonuses, all from the safety of their offices.

I really don’t remember private-sector employees coveting my job during the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s.

Fast forward 30 years, retire and assume that you will collect the pension promised to you that, based on the economy, may or may not contain a cost-of-living adjustment.

Then you discover that your Social Security will be savaged by the so-called “windfall provision.”

Elect the very articulate Paul Le-Page as governor, a man who spent most of his life selling used golf balls and pots and pans at Marden’s.

Discover that he is bent on “Mardenizing” state government and minimizing your meager retirement benefits and possibly emasculating labor unions.

Now sit back and wonder if your past risks protecting your community were worth it or not. Wonder also where all of this is heading. Will our children and grandchildren be relegated to part-time positions with no benefits, or temp positions, in order to make the rich become richer?

It’s all quite sad.

Michael G. McDonough

Not sure that I agree with Larry Lockman’s recent column (“Out-of-control spending will require cuts despite unions’ objections,” March 7) blaming the unions for the current state government budget crisis, but as a retiree receiving a government annuity, it got me thinking.

In my 30 or so years of public service no one ever called me “pampered.”

Nor, to the best of my knowledge, did anyone ever refer to my fellow employees — engineers, craftsmen, systems specialists, procurement agents, drivers, medical staff and many others — in that fashion.

If anything, our friends with comparable jobs in the private sector called us “dummies” for not joining them, and boosting our pay by as much as 50 percent in some instances.

They didn’t call us pampered when they were in Florida spending their year-end bonuses (something not in our employment picture) and we were still on the job in the snowy North.

We often listened in awe to stories about their wonderful investment programs and were told we were “missing the boat.” They chose maximum income. We chose a living wage and security. Dummy us. Pampered never came up.

Now we’re receiving the retirement benefits we paid into and earned with our service. Same with the health benefits.

So now we’ve finally been awarded a new label. Pampered. Gee. I never knew.

James G. Murphy


Hearing today on coverage for infertility treatments


Infertility affects 7.3 million people in this country, about one in eight couples. My husband and I are one of them.

In 1985 I was 29, newly married and wanting to start our family. Over the next decade we sought every possible medical intervention — invasive tests, costly drug therapies, surgeries, in vitro fertilization and gamete intrafallopian transfer.

Many thousands of dollars and several years later, we finally had our son. At the end of that 10 years, we found the wisdom to gently place away our fertility icons and adopted a baby girl from China.

Today, the emotional challenges remain, but the financial burdens have increased.

As a life coach working with women trying to conceive or adopt, I see tremendous struggles around affording even basic medical tests and interventions.

Today, Maine residents have an opportunity to change this. Rep. Gary Knight, R-Livermore Falls, has proposed legislation that could make Maine the 16th state in the nation to mandate insurance companies to cover infertility treatments.

A public hearing on L.D. 720 has been scheduled for today at 1 p.m. in Room 220 of the State House. Maine needs to join the ranks of other mandated New England states like Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut.

Couples struggling to conceive need to come out in force, to impact the passing of this bill.

If not you, then someone in your life is touched by infertility, you just may not know it. Support them, by supporting this essential landmark bill.

Anne Brennan Belden
Cape Elizabeth