Increased and Merit Pay for Teachers
As the United States falls further behind economically and educationally, citizens start to point fingers in every direction. Economically, the majority of the fault is placed in the hands of the executives that brought the United States into the war. Educationally, however, most citizens tend to blame the lack in production by students on teachers. Teachers are a small cause of the low productivity problem of students, but why would teachers feel the need to dedicate time to students when they are not paid as well as other professionals? Even the teachers that do devote time to their students do not get paid anymore than the teachers who do not. Educators have no incentive to improve their performances in the classroom, resulting in a limited number of good teachers. Merit and increased pay is needed in order for teachers to strive to be better and to get the US’s education system out of the dumps.
To start, why would the genuinely bright people of the world want to become teachers? The starting salary of an educator is not very appealing. These intelligent individuals would rather go to school for a higher paying job. If the United States wants to take a tactical approach to fixing the educational problems throughout the nation, it would give funding for schools to increase the pay of teachers.
Teaching itself is a very appealing job. As an educator, working with students to achieve a better education is a great experience. These people get to help students through the struggles of school and eventually be held accountable for some of the student’s success. This in turn creates a very gratifying atmosphere for a teacher, because not only are they somewhat liable for the success of a student, but educators are also important in teaching their students valuable life skills and career planning. These tools help students for the years that come after their education is over. Along with helping students reach their potential, schoolteachers are given summers off. Having summers off allows educators to go on vacation as well as spend more time with their family. This time with family is needed after dedicating nine months to teaching other people’s children. Most teachers do not have many free weekends to spend with family, because they are either correcting papers or homework or getting ready for the next week at school. Teachers are discriminated against because they do not work all twelve months in the year. Some feel that teachers do not need to be paid as much because of their work schedules. This is a wrong assumption made by many people. Educators do no have a set hour per week they have to work. They are expected to get their work done no matter if they have to use their time at home to get it done. These professionals end up working much more than a forty-hour week like the average laborer does, and they do not get paid overtime for doing so. All the aspects of teaching that make it great also make it very hard to go into the profession. For all of the time educators devote to school, it is not being repaid with the amount of money they are making. According to Matthew Di Carlo, in the article “Survey and Analysis of Teacher Salary Trends 2007”, states that the average salary for teachers in Minnesota is about $50,000. That is decent pay, however it would seem that the people that are responsible for the next generation’s education would be paid a higher salary. When a person gets into teaching they cannot expect to make $50,000 right off the bat either. Di Carlo goes on to say that “Minnesota was ranked 25th in the nation for a beginning teacher salaries, at $33,018” (“Survey and Analysis of Teacher Salary Trends 2007”). This is very low compared to many other careers that are available. In the long run, lawyers and doctors will always make more money than teachers. Lawyers have an important job in helping to uphold the rights of the citizens of this nation and they should be paid a large amount of money for their services. In the article “Lawyer Job Description, Career as a Lawyer, Salary, Employment - Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job”, it states that the average salary for a lawyer is around $95,000. Doctors have the job of saving people lives is also rather important. As stated in the article 2009 Physician Compensation Survey, By the American Medical Group Association (AMGA)” the average salary of a general family practice doctor is around $197,000. However, the educators of the world have just as important of a job, and yet they only make about half of what a lawyer makes and one fourth of a doctor salary. Pay cannot be the only incentive that people need to become a teacher. The individuals that think they may want to be an educator must ask their selves if they are committed to being a teacher that reaches out to their students. Too many teachers across the nation are just in it because it is a job that will always be needed. There has never been a time in the world where teachers are not needed, but that is no reason to become a teacher. These teachers need to be weeded out from the education system and replaced by ones that are willing to put time and effort into their careers. Not only do students suffer from poor teaching, but the taxpayers of this country do too. They pay taxes either in their town or for the state. These funds are given to schools to pay for expenses like supplies, upkeep of the school, and teachers pay. Therefore, to have a bad teacher within the school district only wastes the taxpayer’s hard earned money. With all the bad, there is always some good. Not all teachers are awful at their job. These are the teachers that deserve the extra pay. They deserve to be making close to what a lawyer or a doctor makes. They put the extra time and effort in along with making sure their students come first. If that means going in early or staying late, it does not matter, because good teachers are willing to help children outside of school hours. Caring for how the students perform should be the number one rule for educators. To not care would mean that the teacher is not doing their duty.
A merit system would be an effective system to be put in place by the United States. In 2006, Hamilton County, Tennessee became home to one of the nation’s most widely touted school reform success stories all because of the merit system they began using. Launched in 2001, the effort, known as the Benwood Initiative, drastically improved student achievement within the inner-city Chattanooga schools. The founders of this initiative have collected many honors, because they chose to focus on a distinct approach to improving teaching in low-performing schools. Elena Silva states, in the article “The Benwood Plan: A Lesson in Comprehensive Teacher Reform” “school district officials reconstituted the faculties of the Benwood schools, requiring teachers to reapply for their jobs and hiring replacements for those who didn’t make the cut.” To help the cause, community officials began offering incentives to attract new talent, including free graduate school tuition, mortgage loans, and performance bonuses. A $5 million donation from the Benwood Foundation and funding from several other local organizations allowed the district to do all of this.
The plan seemed to work, because of the improvements in test scores, which meant an increase in teacher involvement with students. Silva goes on to say that “a new analysis of ‘value-added’ teacher effectiveness data indicates that over a period of six years, existing teachers in the eight Benwood elementary schools improved steadily (“The Benwood Plan: A Lesson in Comprehensive Teacher Reform”).” Before the Benwood Initiative kicked off, they were far less effective than other teachers elsewhere in the Hamilton County district. By 2006, a group of mostly the same teachers had surpassed the district average.
To keep the Benwood Initiative going, the Benwood Foundation together with the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Public Education Foundation set a purposeful goal. They wanted to get 100% of the schools’ 3rd graders reading at or above grade level by 2007. Silva states that “although the goal was not met, Benwood schools have posted impressive gains, increasing the number of 3rd graders scoring proficient or above on the state reading test from 53% to 80% in the last five years.” In 2007, the Benwood schools indicated remarkable progress in student growth by revealing that all but one of the eight schools in the district earned A’s in math, reading, and language on a state report card. Just by adding a merit pay system, the Chattanooga inner-city schools were able to turn their entire district around. By adding a merit pay system like that of the Benwood Initiative, schools could repay those teachers that go the extra mile. The merit pay system would give educators the incentive to try hard enough to get that extra money. As stated before, teachers only make about $50,000 a year, so every teacher should want to jump at the chance to make an extra couple $1000 a year. Money does not have to be the only incentive either. Additional vacation time could also be used to make teachers strive to be better.
Teaching may seem like a simple job, but it is rather difficult. Educators deal with students that do not care or do no try, but they find a way to help these children learn. Increased pay for teachers is needed to help bring in the more intelligent individuals of the world to prepare students for the real world. Merit pay is also needed to encourage teachers to put in the extra time to help students learn the material they need to in order to pass the class and to gain the necessary skills needed in the workforce today.
"2009 Physician Compensation Survey, By the American Medical Group Association (AMGA)." Cejka Search. American Medical Group Association, 2009. Web. 29 Nov. 2009. . Di Carlo, Matthew, Nate Johnson, and Pat Cochran. "Survey and Analysis of Teacher Salary Trends 2007." Aft.org. American Federation of Teachers, 2008. Web. 21 Nov. 2009. . "Lawyer Job Description, Career as a Lawyer, Salary, Employment - Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job." Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and Profiles. 2009. Web. 28 Nov. 2009. . Silva, Elena. "The Benwood Plan: A Lesson in Comprehensive Teacher Reform." Academic Search Premier. EBSCOhost, Oct. 2008. Web. 21 Nov. 2009. .