As they said in that old Virginia Slims commercial, "You've come a long way, Baby!" Wow; just look at those budget numbers from a more rural Hamilton Township! Back when I was growing up, a teacher's salary was meagre; indeed the average teacher was under-paid. There was a Superintendent and no top heavy burearucracy with Assistants, Assistant to the Assistant, and on and on. I remember Miss Ruth Margerum, my 3rd grade teacher telling my mother at a PTA meeting something to the effect that as a teacher she didn't expect to be wealthy, but the rewards of teaching far out-weighed the financial shortcomings. Yep, they were the good old days. If a student fell behind the rest of the class in his or her studies, he or she repeated the grade. If a student was un-ruly and out of step with the rest of the class he or she got an audience with Miss Reynolds, the Principal, the teacher, and the parent. If that conference didn't change the student's behavior, he or she faced expulsion. I have a reputation of having great respect for those in the field of education. Indeed, in the early 80's when I began writing, I observed that teachers had every right to receive a salary commensurate with that of any other professional. However, over the years, the pendulum has started to swing in the opposite direction. A recent New York Post story told of New York City teachers who had been spending the school day in what was known as "the rubber room;" a room set aside where a teacher who committed illegal acts in various ways was removed from the classroom, isolated from the regular class rooms and still drawing his or her salary. The teachers' union protect its own; firing is not an option.