Dear Mr. President,
The other day I asked you what kind of country we are living in and what kind of America do we want for ourselves, and our children? I used several examples of how and why we are definitely headed in the wrong direction. One of those was the way this country treats it’s children and how it’s failing them in so many ways.
It is also well known that teachers contribute countless amounts of their own money to make sure their classrooms are pleasant and conducive for learning. Many buy all the supplies the students will need because the schools can no longer afford to provide the necessities for learning and achieving success at school. This money comes right out of their pockets, and they do it because they care about our children. Even as they lose benefits, collective bargaining, and take pay cuts, they still teach and support and provide for our kids. Each and every teacher out there deserves our appreciation and thanks, because where would any of us be without the teachers that taught us the skills to be successful working adults.
But today I want to bring to your attention a man that exemplifies what it means to sacrifice for the greater good of children. This man is Larry Powell, Fresno County Schools Superintendent. Superintendent Powell has voluntarily taken a pay cut of $800,000 over a four-year period until his term expires in 2015. Instead Powell will be making just $31,000 per year, $10,000 less than a first year teacher – and with no benefits.
When asked why, Powell responded, “How much do we need to keep accumulating? There’s no reason for me to keep stockpiling money.” Powell’s generosity will ensure that some of his pet projects will survive more California budget cuts. A man who has made anti-bullying his mission, and says he hopes that his gesture will help restore some faith in a government that he once taught his students to respect.
The best part is that Powell will be able to direct those funds where he wants them to go: to programs for kindergarten and pre-school, the arts and a pet project that steers B and C students into college by teaching them how to take notes and develop strategy skills. Powell and his wife Dot agree that, “their goal has never been to have things, we want to give back.”
Now if Warren Buffett will just write a check for the taxes he agrees he should be paying then maybe we could see some others step up to the plate and share a little of their wealth. When an educator making a 6-figure salary can give back $800,000 then surely those making millions and billions can part with a proportional amount.
So today Mr. President, I salute Larry Powell, a real ‘American Hero’ – and I ask that you salute him too, and thank him for what is assuredly, more than his share of the ‘shared sacrifice’ – and nobody had to ask him, he just did it.
Your Gadfly Granny