Improving America’s Schools – Letter 1, Part 3 (Professional Pay)

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The following post is based on thoughts related to:

Letters to the editor that the NY Times has recently received concerning public schools. The link is: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/17/opinion/l17educ.html?emc=eta1

Jacqueline Ancess writes, “In education, research on performance pay shows no substantive gains in student achievement, and all Mr. Obama’s policy will do is reinforce the ill-conceived notion that low-level standardized tests are a valid measure of student achievement. Instead, pay teachers a salary that signals teaching as a profession.”

The above comment has three areas that I want to address, performance pay, measuring student achievement, and professional pay. I discussed performance pay and measuring student achievement in my previous posts. Now I will discuss professional pay.

Ms. Ancess does not believe that teachers are paid as professionals. I have to disagree. Teachers are paid as professionals. Starting salaries are competitive with the starting salaries of a number of professions in both the public and private sector. Obviously, things begin to change after the first couple of years, or do they? Teachers have traded income for security and fringe benefits. Even with districts laying off staff all over the country, right now teachers are at less risk of losing their job than people in other professions. Teacher retirement packages (we still have one) are safer than other professions. And teachers are generally less accountable for their personal performance than other professionals. The removal of these risks has a cost. As for fringe benefits, teachers enjoy more time off, more generous sick leave policies and fewer working hours than most professionals. These too have a cost.

So when you look at the total compensation package, teachers are not as bad off as we are lead to believe. You won’t get rich teaching, but were any of us called to this profession for the pay?

T.W.A – Your turn…

Improving America’s Schools – Letter 1, Part 2 (Measuring Student Achievement)
Recommended Book – “Problem Solving 101”

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