PESPD'S Plan for Paying and Retaining Teachers
Okay, as promised, here it is! My plan for paying and retaining teachers.
We start with a normal salary schedule. For anyone who doesn't know what I'm talking about, in most places, teachers are put on a salary schedule according to the number of years they have been in their district. Their first year in a school, they are on step zero, and their fourth year, they are on step three. The higher the step, the higher the salary. In our school, the highest step is 16. In every step, there are lanes for the amount of graduate credits that teachers have had since attaining their bachelors degrees. In the schools where I've worked, it has gone by increments of 15. For example, if someone is on step four, there would be lane for Step 4 + 0 credits, Step 4 + 15 credits, all the way up to Step 4 with a Masters + 45 credits. The farther a teacher is along on lanes, the more they get paid within that step. So in other words, a teacher who is just out of college with no graduate credits might get paid something like $28,000, and a teacher who is at the highest step with a Masters + 45 credits might get paid something like $56,000.
My idea is to start with this schedule, but to allow a principal to move teachers up an down the steps. So if a school got a great new teacher, at the end of a year, the principal would be able to move her from step one all the way to step five, six or even higher if he wanted to. No teacher would object to being moved up, but many would object to being moved down, and I would also allow principals to do that. In those cases, I would set up an appeal process with a panel consisting of something like one school board member, one teacher, and one respected citizen from the community--perhaps a parent or a retired teacher. Both the teacher who had been moved down and the principal could bring witnesses and give evidence, but there would be no lawyers allowed.
Although having graduate credits or a Master's degree doesn't necessarily make one a better teacher than one who doesn't, there is value in earning them, so I would continue to have lanes within the steps in order to encourage continuing education.
In most places, when cuts need to made, teachers are laid off strictly by seniority. The least senior teachers get cut. Since, in my system, the people who the principal believed were the best teachers would be the highest on salary schedule, I would use a system similar to this. But rather than using strict seniority, teachers would be laid off according to is lowest on the salary schedule in the departments that are being cut. As things are now, a teacher in an area being cut, social studies for example, can "bump" a teacher with less seniority in a different area, like math, that isn't being cut. I would allow the principal to use his or her discretion to do this type of thing by having a teacher that is higher on the salary schedule bump one who is lower. Obviously, if a principal did this, it should be because the principal believed the "bumping" teacher was better.
I know that any teacher who doesn't like his principal is probably going to think that this is a lousy idea. But teachers aren't the only people in our society who sometimes have lousy bosses, and they wouldn't be the only ones to have to try to get along with bosses they didn't like. I know this sounds simplistic, but the solution is to replace bad principals with better ones.
I think this system would help to solve a couple of problems that we have. First of all, it would help schools to keep outstanding young teachers that are too often lost when cuts have to be made due to budget problems. It could also do a lot to cure something that I call the "I paid my dues" syndrome.
I've said before that I've known very few veteran teachers that could be called incompetent. But I have seen too many veteran teachers who have quit working as hard as they could. They quit doing those extra things that they did when they were younger because they've "paid their dues." There is no question that being made safe by seniority does an awful lot to contribute to this attitude. Knowing that longevity doesn't guarantee teachers anything unless they continue to work up to their capacity might do a lot to cure this malady.
So there it is. If you don't like it, go ahead and hit me with your best shot. I should mention that I have written other posts saying that teachers should have the power to remove disruptive and apathetic students from their classes when they think those students are hurting the education of other kids in those classes. I believe principals should be able to use their judgement to have the best teaching staff possible, but I also believe teachers should be able to use their judgement to provide the best educational environment possible in their classrooms. I honestly believe that if principals and teachers in public schools had the power to do these things, vouchers wouldn't even be an issue. And if they were, we would be so good that they wouldn't be anything to be afraid of.