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Do Educators Have a Right to Privacy?

Thanks for the article “Spy Games” (May).

Our district tells us that the phones, computers, hallways, and classrooms belong to them. They have a right to look and listen to anything they choose. It is very similar to what they tell students about their lockers: They belong to the district, and they can open and inspect them at anytime. I always took it for the truth. Your article has me asking questions.

It feels more and more like Big Brother watching over my shoulder. For the most part, I think I have nothing to hide, so it doesn’t bother me. But when you know you are being “watched” and listened to, I wonder if we have any reasonable right to privacy?

Kathy Ginestra , Kansas City, MO

One of the subjects in “Spy Games” asks “Are they also reading our emails?” I’m not a lawyer, but as far as I understand, any emails I write on district computers as a part of my job are public record. I don’t think many administrators sit around and read our emails, but if confronted with an issue, I believe they have the right and the obligation to investigate. That doesn’t include secret videotaping, and the Everett administration was wrong in this case, but don’t forget the old adage about emails: Never write anything in an email that you wouldn’t want to read on the front page of a newspaper.

Endre Szentkiralyi, Northfield, OH

Cemeteries as history

I applaud Linda Prater’s study of historical cemeteries through a wide range of curriculum (“Try This: Get Them To Try Something New,” May). My colleagues give me a hard time with one of my hobbies: cemetery-hopping. An avid genealogist, I was raised in a small town in which my grandfather was cemetery caretaker. Over the years, all cemeteries have fascinated me, especially one in east Texas where a small site has veterans of seven wars. Now that is a history lesson.

Terri Keck, Marlow, OK

GPO/WEP

I was very happy to read the article on retirement and Social Security benefits (Notepad: “Retirement Relief,” May). I, too, am a teacher who entered teaching 10 years ago, after my first career in architecture. There is no other industry but teaching that treats its employees so badly. I feel for myself and countless other teachers, who entered teaching wanting to make a change, to bring a higher level of education to the teaching industry, and who will now lose all they have accumulated before teaching.

Audrey Fairchild, Ph.D., Hillsborough, CA

I’m going to contact my representative about repealing GPO/WEP, but wanted to let you know that military veterans who contributed to Social Security during their career, and who are now in the classroom, are one of the groups doubly-hit by the attempt to eliminate “windfalls.” It’s another deficit reduction burden misplaced on the backs of those who really care about the nation and the future citizens education creates.

Jim Perkins, Troy, IL

Parents

Great chart, lousy intro “The Guide to Parent Teachers” (May 2009) features a chart with some good suggestions about saving money while raising your baby. But the introduction isn’t as thoughtful.

For example, it says, “It doesn’t cost much to make a baby ... but to keep one?” Both situations happen to be priceless honors. This implies “to keep” a baby is costly. Is the alternative “to not keep one?” Also, I thought it was in very poor taste to say “hopefully you aren’t paying” the $35,000 delivery bill. Whom do you suggest should pay? Please don’t say “insurance.” Even those fortunate enough to have health insurance are still paying their own medical bills, when you think it through.

Mary Ann Bittner, Belleville, MI

Let’s Talk

Share your ideas, comments, and opinions in one of four ways: Mail: Write to Letters, NEA Today, 1201 16th St., N.W., Washington, DC 20036 Web: Go to www.nea.org/neatoday, click on “Publications Feedback Form,” and choose “Letter to the Editor” from the drop-down “subject” menu. E-mail: Write to neatoday@nea.org Fax: 202-822-7206 Letters are edited for length and clarity.

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August, 2009


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