Teacher’s Pay

editorial-logo3The State of Tennessee is promoting merit pay for teachers for next school year and Jefferson County Department of Education will be charged with coming up with a formula that encompasses a variety of facets to distribute merit pay. Gone are the days of longevity and advanced degrees being the only way that a teacher can increase their income and I say that it is about time. The truth is that not all teachers are created equal. Some are very, very good and some are not. That should not be shocking to anyone-in every profession there are those that excel, those that just get the job done and those that can’t or won’t perform. Educators are no exception and just like the private sector, those that excel should be rewarded for their effort. In the past, our teachers have received candy bars for a job well done. Folks, these are professional people that put a great amount of money into preparation to teach and effort into their art. Candy bars are for treasure boxes, not professionals. In the past, teachers received herd pay. The group moves a relatively the same pace and no one gets more for producing more. While the State will allow for some steps in pay for longevity and advanced degrees, performance is paramount.

Jefferson County must come up with a way to identify, without politics or prejudice, those that stand above the herd in their profession. I know some excellent teachers that struggle to live on salaries that are much lower than they could make in the private sector. Coming from a family of educators, I believe that teaching is a calling and that a good teacher can change the life of a student. Adequate teachers provide information but a good teacher provides information and inspiration. Certainly, not every student will become a vigorous reader, or a scientist or an artist but a teacher never knows which student might become more than even they imagine. In Jefferson County, there is an element that is opposed to paying teachers. Too much vacation time-too many benefits-and so on. Should lousy teachers be rewarded? No, absolutely not. But most of us can remember at least one teacher that made school a little more palatable. That made us think about something that we never considered before or believe in our ability to reach beyond what is to grasp what could be. Those are the teachers that I am talking about. The good teachers. Whatever the subject, be it shop or art or math or science or second grade, they stand out in the crowd. Though it must be carefully managed, merit pay could do for education what all the evaluations and career ladders and no child left behinds couldn’t do. One small step for teachers could be one giant leap for education and though there is always the risk that merit pay could be mismanaged, without risk there is little reward. It is beyond time to reward our educators that truly shine.

Source: K. Depew, News Director