Should School Districts Offer Signing Bonuses to Their Teachers?

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Should School Districts Offer Signing Bonuses?

Image your child’s school district can’t afford to offer signing bonuses for better teachers, what does that mean for your child? It may mean that your child may have a less qualified teacher because of where they live as oppose to one of your co-workers whose district can afford signing bonuses. Or does a signing bonus allow school districts to beef up staff when teachers are at an all time shortage? I believe signing bonuses are a great way to woo teachers into maybe staying in a certain district or entice people who may not have thought about a teaching degree, but at what cost?

Recruiting for teachers is at an all time high with districts going from state to state and even across the border to find teachers. Since teachers are at an all time low and in desperate need instead of colleges going to high schools to recruit future teachers they are now going to junior high schools to reach these future teachers at a younger age. There are teaching programs and grants designed to help offset the cost of attending a four year institute. Of course with the program you must maintain a 3.25 grade point average and serve in a low income district (this list can change from year to year) or specialize in a high need area (Foreign language, science, reading specialist, mathematics and special needs) for as many years as you received funding from the teachers’ program. This program and other grants are not considered a “signing bonuses” but are designed to attract people who may or may not be interested in the education field to receive a free or lost cost education.

During my research I have found several different signing bonuses being offered that have different qualifications and different incentives that vary from state to state and district to district. One signing bonus that caught my attention and many others was the bonus Massachusetts was offering their potential teachers. $20,000 to be paid over the course of four years (of course this would keep these potential teachers to stay for four years) was a bonus provided if educated people who didn’t think about becoming teacher who consider and if so they had constructed an accelerated program for people to get a teaching degree in less time.

The majority of school districts that have a problem with teacher retention are the urban inner city schools. Between the horrible working conditions and lack of benefits the average inner city teacher is losing their ambition. 42 states have started giving credentials and jobs to people who have not taken educational courses or have not taught in any classroom setting (camp or church) and in some cases the credentials were giving to these individuals in exchange for years of services (which is a form of a signing bonus). In order to keep these teachers and hopefully bring new fresh teachers into these classrooms districts have came up with creative ways to lure and keep teachers. In Virgina’s Loudon County, they believe signing bonuses and perks take away from teachers’ willingness and loving hearts and make these same teacher’s hold out for the better benefits. Whether you use signing bonuses or not districts are trying to recruit the same people as other districts and in some cases taking from another district.

Unlike most school districts whom prefer the experienced teachers, Montgomery County Public School district in Maryland offer a $1,000 signing bonus for teachers fresh out of college. The only catch is this school district wants the “cream of the crop” teacher who achieved and maintained a 3.5 and up grade point average.

Massachusetts has been giving signing bonuses to teachers and they still don’t go to the problem areas which defeats the purpose of the signing bonus. This incentive program was designed to lure qualified teachers back into the needy areas but did the opposite. On top of not meeting the mandated 13 school rule [teachers who received the bonus would...
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