$2,300: A great investment

You’ve heard it said that a college degree is worth what a high school diploma used to be. There was a time, certainly in my lifetime, when educators urged us not to drop out of high school. “You hold the key to the future,” and other such bromides put the fear of poverty into us.

At the time, when the U.S. began its switch from a mercantile society to an information-processing country, the need for higher degrees increased. I’m not going to give a paean on the benefits of school but merely stress how important certain qualifications are. To some.

Let me explain:

Last month, in the Journal was a lament from a teacher who had been in the classroom for 20 years, acquired Level II status and now earns $44,000.

Now before you divide that figure by nine, because, “as we all know, teachers work only nine months and get summers off,” let me explain a teacher’s lot is more complex than that. To attain Level III status, that magic step that could win you a whopping $50,000, you need to get the right advanced degrees, which don’t come free. Unless teachers choose to take a year off, forfeit their salary and immerse themselves full time in a master’s program, they spend their summers in sweaty classrooms pecking away at another degree and prepping for orals and/or a thesis.

In light of the rapidly declining value of the dollar, $50,000 isn’t quite the eye-opener it used to be. I reached the half-a-hundred level  in the last four years of my career, but it took me 150 years to get there. Is there a solution?

Well perhaps …

Some adherents to every word our governor speaks chipped in the maximum allowable donation, $2,300, to Bill Richardson’s presidential campaign a couple of years back. Well, he fell short of that goal, returning to the ever-forgiving confines of New Mexico, got re-elected, and rewarded many donors with cushy jobs.

Investigations by KRQE’s Larry Barker exposed the many sinecure pay-to-play slots rewarded for people’s support of Richardson. The salaries for many of these new hires are often double the $44,000 the Journal letter writer moaned about. A slew of people now have jobs whose entry far exceeds the pittance some teachers wait 20 years to attain.

Really now, it’s demoralizing for employees to discover that in an era of a collapsed economy, they get a dollar raise and earn only half what top administrators make. And underlings often face obligatory furlough days. Raises in the double five-digits come close to the entry-level salary of some new hires.

Hmmm. Could that ever happen in Las Vegas?

• • •

Notice how spokespeople for the governor, such as Gilbert Gallegos, and the public information officers for large government agencies, Monica Armenta and Janet Blair, almost never reveal anything of substance. Their mantra is a repetitious, “The matter is being investigated” or “We have no comment at this time,” or “We’re taking this matter seriously.”

Really? When do investigations ever conclude, and when is it a good time to reveal information the public information officers are being paid for? Damage Control seems a more fitting title.

Oh yes. And has anyone ever been placed on leave without pay?

• • •

In a decision surprisingly kept under wraps until the 11th hour, the city chose about 20 days ago to close the city recreation center on Sundays. The hundreds of paying patrons found out about it by reading the paper or posters taped to walls at the rec center.

According to posters, the closed-on-Sundays schedule will last only through the summer. But let’s not forget that Sunday summers are often when entire families like to go for a swim.

With the Highlands Natatorium currently boarded and fenced off, swimmers don’t have much choice in this clime where temperatures flirt daily with 100 degrees.

Some people travel a good distance to get here. We wonder whether the savings in closing on Sundays will jibe with the revenue Sunday customers bring.

So the city decided to close the center — temporarily — on Sundays. Did any of the customers see a corresponding 14 percent decrease in their daily or monthly fees?

We realize money is tight, but we also apprehend the long-standing fact that most rec centers lose money anyway. Let’s work on a solution, one that might even include rec center patrons. It’s a wee bit encouraging to believe that in the fall the center will return to its seven-day regimen, but some people may well be wondering how long it’ll be before the city decides that the facility ought to be closed on Saturdays as well.

Whether we’re members or not, we all pay for the center.

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