Monday, July 8, 2013

Who Needs Experienced and Well Educated Teachers Anyway?

The state of Tennessee is revamping the minimum pay for teachers. Now that the state pay schedule for teachers has changed, all of the systems must revamp their own pay schedules.

Instead of 11 steps on the teacher pay scale, the new pay structure will allow for 4 steps, topping out at the 11th year. Perhaps more disturbingly, there is no longer any pay bump required for education beyond the bachelor's degree. The districts will be allowed to pay teachers more for higher test scores or taking on extra responsibilities.

So let's say this plays out by the book. You know, the Economics book.

What systems are going to be able to pay a higher salary schedule for the teachers with greater experience, education and proven track records? The ones with higher tax bases. In other words, the richer districts. The Matthew effect rears its ugly head again, leaving struggling districts with the least experienced teachers with the least amount of training.

This article states that Lydia Logan, managing director of Chiefs for Change, "a group of education leaders and reform advocates from different states" supports the changes implemented by Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman. Chiefs for Change is a corporatist reform organization made up of state education chairs like Mr. Huffman, Chris Cerf (Chris Christie's wetwork man for NJ teachers), and Stephen Bowen (Paul LaPage of Maine's Education Chief whose experience is mostly as a propagandist). Chiefs for Change is a division of the Foundation of Excellence in Education, who has Jeb Bush as Chairman of the Board. Why am I not encouraged by their vote of confidence?

Let me be up front about my own biases. I am about to finish my Specialist in Ed degree, and then will be well on my way to the Ph. D. And I have little trust that our unions are have the stomach for the dramatic changes education needs. They are here to provide stability for members, and thus are hesitant about the upheaval large scale reforms would bring.

But giving long-term teachers little reason to stay at poor performing schools or no professional incentive to read current research and educate themselves further smacks of people that want the public education system to crank out good little worker bees, that will turn in their paperwork and punch the clock on time.

Note to these so-called reformers: those jobs are going away. Those who can think, reason and create will have the jobs and careers the future (and by future I mean from this second onward, not 2030 or 2050), not the worker drones that they envision as the end product of public schools.

Teachers need to step up and make their voices heard. We are professionals and we need to be treated like it. The teacher that complains at the lunch table or workroom will not be heard. Let it be known how much work you put in for your students, and how they are reacting to it.

Otherwise, the narrative is that teachers are the problem.

Rather than part of the solution.

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