In an apology issued Thursday morning, The Monitor announced that, in response to reader complaints, it will remove public school district salary data it posted on Tuesday.
The Hidalgo County newspaper had compiled salary data for some area school districts, including McAllen ISD, Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD and La Joya ISD but was still in the process of securing numbers from other districts.
"Since it was never our intention to single out these or any other particular school district, we have removed those online postings," the paper said.
The Monitor said it will return to the data once it has secured the information from all of the districts in the county and "will perform due diligence and report, in the best interests of all taxpayers, where there might be anomalies" in future efforts.
Responses were mixed, to say the least. Here are a couple of samples from the comments:
"What was the purpose of this? To humiliate us by letting us know what little we have going for us? We slave to teach CHILDREN, the greatest resource this country has, and this is the thanks we get? People who feel we get paid too much? We have college degrees, but are among the LOWEST paid professionals. This is fuel for a fire that might not ever be extinguished. Everyone wants their kids to be taught by the best and brightest teachers! Well some of us are paid, as seen by some comments on this post, apparently too much. Remember you get what you pay for. If you don’t pay teachers what they deserve, then our country will never reach the top of the educational ladder!"
"Retention of quality employees is key in any organization whether they be private or public entities. By placing this information of school district employees actually helps. You have just provided the disparity between different districts and how school districts must compete in order to keep quality employees. Competition in the public sector is no different than in the private sector. If entities don’t provide a solid foundation not merely on the environment but also in the monetary sense, individuals will go to where the money is. Commitment will only get you so far. Thank you for sharing information that leads to allowing the public sector to become more competitive."
We can relate to The Monitor. Here at the Tribune, we maintain the Government Employee Salary Database (which includes salary data from school districts in the state). It is not uncommon for us to receive emails or phone calls from folks whose salaries are included and who voice many of the same concerns expressed by some readers of The Monitor. But we have never seen a response quite as heated as this.
As Tribune Editor-in-Chief and CEO Evan Smith explained in a post last year, "We believe in the power of data." It may be uncomfortable to have salary information out in the open. But when it comes to promoting open government, we believe it is worth it.