My good friend Phyllis Bush forwarded me your letter to her. As I gave her many examples for responses to you, I realized I should write you myself.
What you need to understand is that teachers don’t go into teaching for the money. They know the salary isn’t the greatest. They go into teaching because they either love children or they love their subject area. They aren’t trying to see how wealthy they can become. Teaching is a calling. It’s a commitment to make our future society a better place. It’s about touching the lives of those they teach…striving to be as good as one’s own favorite teacher.
Giving a physics teacher $10,000 more than the average starting teacher’s salary sounds nice at first. But then what? Our new teachers didn’t see a pay increase for 5 years. So basically, you’re reeling them in on a lie….a big starting salary that remains stagnant.
So what do I suggest? I suggest you give teachers a pay increase with years’ experience as it was. Currently, teachers aren’t even sure what their income will be, and if they can afford to live on what they make. These new teachers want to start families, by homes, eat, take vacations…the experienced teachers have children to put through college, mortgages to pay. Being on a pay freeze for extended periods of time has to be devastating.
I also suggest there be a requirement to get a Master’s degree and incentives (pay increase) to do so. After all, do you want your children taught by teachers who have no further learning than what they learned in undergraduate school? I know I want mine taught by people who desire to further their education – learn as much as they can about their subject area or about pedagogy.
To fix the problem you need to look at what caused it. Salary freezes didn’t cause the problem, so pseudo-pay increases won’t fix it. What caused this problem was an overuse of standardized testing. Teachers feel forced to “teach to the test.” Degrading teachers and distrust in teachers caused this. “Let’s grade them on how well they can get children to perform on a test.” “Let’s grade their schools…and we’ll make it hard to jump through all the hoops…they’ll have to get better.” “Let’s ignore all factors children have to deal with…no food at home; being raped/abused/molested by mom’s boyfriend; no books, study area, pencils, paper, supplies; lack of sleep, a bed, heat; mom/dad in prison, being raised by grandma or foster parent.” Do you really think all children are going to go to school ready and willing to learn when many live in the conditions I mentioned? And then we grade/evaluate our teachers who have children like this as the majority of their students.
My solution is to lighten up on the grading and testing and degrading of teachers. I don’t need a test to know how my children perform, and I certainly don’t want my child’s teacher’s salary based on how well my child did. And my children are sick and tired of taking these tests…they’ve become a joke to them. My children are good students…I don’t need a test to show me that.
I haven’t seen this bill yet, but the one solution about reimbursing a teacher for college seems to be a better fit. After all, remember, people don’t go into education for the money. Therefore, knowing they won’t have student loans to pay back might actually be an incentive. Or what about paying back some of those loans of our current teachers? Most can’t afford a home in addition to their student loan.
Understanding the mind of a teacher is a must to find a solution. Please listen to our teachers. I’m sure you will receive letters from them. They live this daily. Listen to what has driven many away from the profession. I really doubt it is money. It is their working conditions. That’s what you need to fix.
Thank you for reading....