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AMEN, To divide us is to defeat us. It is the Librarian, Art, PE, Music, Reading Coach that make it possible for the classroom teacher to be successful. It is a team effort not a solo event.
I believe that all teachers are underpaid and underappreciated. All teachers work extremely hard and should be rewarded for improving student performance. When we signed up to be teachers we did it for the love of the children and the ability to have an impact on students lives. A dedicated teacher should not perform well simply because they will receive more money. It is our job to be a quality teacher and help students excel at learning. I believe that ALL teachers should receive a higher salary. After all, we deserve it!
Yes, this is what we get paid for----very low pay. Why can't teachers receive bonuses for increasing student achievement? When working for major corporations, employees receive bonuses for their work performances.
Get over yourself!
I just want to ask you, Sean, are you a teacher?? Have you ever taught? Do you know what it is like to be in a classroom, at the helm, with 25 or more students? When you have done this, then, please comment on the pay that teachers presently receive and how they get their raises. Children are not a business. Teaching cannot be conducted like a business, with merit pay, based on performance of the children. This is insulting to the teacher/educator.
Basing pay on achievement is not appropriate if it is tied to absolute test scores rather than to improvement. However, even then it is not fair to expect as much from children who have never seen a mountain, may be homeless or without electricity periodically and who start doing sibling care in the 4th grade as you can from children who spend their lives playing sports, going to camp and on vacations, have their own computers and two parents who help them with their homework.
Then there is another group who is left out and that is the special education teachers. Despite all the talk about inclusion and bringing our kids to grade level, children are in special education for a reason and that reason is usually because there are intellectual, physical, or learning barriers that make learning harder and take longer. Only students with Aspergers are likely to learn as quickly as others and even those may be so overwhelmed with their obsessions that they have trouble concentrating on anything else.
And then there is the rest of special education,those of us who teach the self contained students, the ones in functional programs who are moderately, severely or profoundly retarded severely emotionally disturbed, non-verbal, deaf or autistic or brain damaged. Many of these kids are best educated in functional and modified programs and do not learn as much or the same things as regular kids. Now certainly you can base merit pay on whether or not a student masters IEP objectives, but we know that if it comes down to the paycheck, even good special ed. teachers are not likely to write challenging objectives that might prevent them from getting their supplement.
Instead of merit pay, raise the pay for all teachers and reward veteran educators for getting advanced degrees, staying in education more than 5 years, mentoring rookies and getting National Certification.
Also, alternate certification needs to be largely disposed of, especially in special education. I inherited some really screwed up children from several previous not-teachers. Took the whole year just to get rid of some of the behaviors and even figure out what they actually knew.
Maybe a few alternate certification people can teach but it is going to take them a lot longer to learn their job and most of them either leave the field entirely before they master their jobs or at least leave the schools that have a hard time getting teachers as soon as they can. NOt many ACs who start as inner city teachers stay there. Actually I only knew one who was any good and she was older, well mentored, and knew what she was getting into before hand. She taught Behavior Disorders and had been a parole officer in her previous career. The rest were arrogant, confused and did not know a thing about class management or getting concepts over to the students. At least first year education grads know that they don't know everything!! Alternate certification is an insult to those of us who went to school to become teachers. It says that anyone with a degree and a few weeks of training can do our job! Therefore, we are really not much.
Make the job really enticing with pay, benefits, tax breaks, quick tenure, paid tuition and fees, professional development days, planning days where you can catch up your paperwork and daily planning periods periods where there are no responsibilities for children, good working conditions, equipment, power, recognition, and a real career ladder and alternate certification won't be needed and merit pay will not be an issue in just a few years. A range of $50-100,000 plus an extra $10,000 for working in shortage fields and hard to fill positions (both inner city and rural--any place but the middle class suburbs so many teachers see as a goal) would attract the cream of the crop of college students to become education majors and teachers. Require a Master's to be completed within 5 years of employment with the goal of a person not being fully certified without a M.Ed so that teachers will really know their job. Education will improve automatically. Teachers will run the schools. No system will ever dream of hiring a superintendent who is not a teacher for fear of insulting the faculty. Everyone will get a good education. The marginal teachers will leave because the expectations will be too high for them to achieve and they will know it and head for the parochial and "christian" schools where administrators often care more about the teacher's politics than their education and pay accordingly.
Merit pay is not the way. It is too easily manipulated and political. If a teacher does not kiss the principal's backside, she won't get her merit pay. Principals will overload unpopular teachers with low achieving students or force them to teach at grade levels where they are uncomfortable or where there is a great push to teach to a high stakes test. Schools are just too political to have a merit pay system. Improve education by improving pay and working conditions and expecting teachers to do their job well, not with political bribery.
Who gets the merit raise for a group of kids who improve their reading scores...the classroom teacher? the counselor who kept the kids on an even keel? the Title 1 Reading teacher who worked with the children every day, agonized over every problem, and celebrated every gain? The art teacher whose class allowed kids who weren't academically successful a time and a place to shine? It takes a village, baby! Paying one teacher for the work of many just divides us.
I do all kinds of great lessons with my students when we're in the library or in the computer lab. I'm a National Board Certified teacher and a 15 year veteran of public education. I have fantastic colleagues who teach our young students music, art, and physical education. Yet none of us will ever be eligible for a "merit" raise because what we do isn't directly tested on some number-2-pencil-fill-in-the-blank test.
I agree with you 100%. I am only a 5 year veteran. 23 years would lead to a life of regret and possibly alcoholism for me. I am currently seeking a change in careers. I came into the profession when I was young and "hopeful of the possiblities" of making a difference in the minds of young scholars. The only problem is that these "young scholars" have not accepted their role although some of them are well past the early developmental stage---and don't realize that they are our future citizens who will be in charge. I personally don't believe they are ready, will ever be ready, or care to be ready! It is frightening.