On a recent weekday I was told loudly and clearly once again just how much both my services and my time are worth to the Montgomery County Public Schools.

I arrived at school at my usual time, 6:40, only to find myself locked out of my own classroom. It took two trips downstairs to the main office to finally locate a key to what in other professions would be my office -- 25 minutes that I could have productively spent wading through more than 100 papers.

That same week, the school board, in voting to renegotiate the contracts agreed to last fall, decided that a promise and a handshake don't count when the people on the other side are only public servants entrusted with what politicians so often like to refer to as our most precious national resource, our children.

Also that week, a number of teachers were informed that, because of a decline in the projected enrollment next year, they were being "surplussed." This means those teachers can hope to be sought after by another school in the county or, more realistically, they must begin seeking a position elsewhere.

During the 10 years of my employment in this county, the conditions under which I and others teach have not improved; rather, they have steadily deteriorated. Because I spend my own money to attend professional meetings and conferences around the country, I know that this is not the case in many other jurisdictions. I only wonder where all the county's money goes, for I know it is not making its way into the classroom.

I love teaching, and I like to think I am good at it. I care deeply about the quality of education, about the children with whom I work. However, the longer I remain in this field the more frustrated I become with the obstacles constantly hurled into the paths of teachers by the unthinking, unknowing bureaucrats who control our lives. If this county continues treating me and others like me like children and continues to expect that I will gladly work 65 to 70 hours a week for less pay than any comparable professional would, then it is sadly mistaken.