Can O’ Worms: Eat It, Salary Schedule
For those of you who are not teachers, allow me to explain how I take the dolla’ bills to the bank (all five!): I have a salary schedule. That means that every year I move up one level. If I’ve managed to gain enough continuing education/graduate school credits, I get to move to a new lane that advances a bit faster and starts out with higher numbers.
This is complete garbage, btw. If I fart all day for 180 days and manage to not get fired, I will get raise. Yippee! If I bust my hump assessing, reassessing, planning, crying, learning, and otherwise loving my students, I get… I GET! … the same raise.
I’m not saying I deserve these raises, nor am I saying that I deserve bigger raises. I’m just saying that anything this automatic is ridiculous. If averaging is bad in grading, then why do we tolerate it in our collective bargaining agreements?
Here’s the article that spawned this post (thanks to @mctownsley for the tweet). I’m going to quote it some, but I suggest you read it in its entirety; you know, for context and all that.
The basic premise is that there’s a magical place in Colorado where teachers get payed more for being good teachers. (a la “Can O’ Worms” as this post’s title)
Check this out:
…If she continues to perform at that level, she will rise to the full Proficient I salary of $48,000 the following year. It would have taken her 14 years and 48 hours of continuing-education credits to reach that grade under the old salary schedule.
Did you read that last sentence? Did you?! This makes Hulk-Cornally start to come out. I’m going to need a new shirt. 14 years! I’ll be lucky if I last that long in this career as a whole. This teacher is going to receive this amount of pay based an assessment of her classroom practices and her students’ levels of achievement — today. The fact that this teacher is actually valued by her district this much, but, through collective bargaining, would have had to wait 14 years and spend several thousand dollars in grad credit to get it really boils my potatoes.
There’s a flip side to this:
Not all teachers have been happy with their placements. Mike Stahl, the executive director of the Pikes Peak Education Association, the regional union affiliate, likens the system to a “beauty contest” that allows principals to handpick favorites for higher placement and pay.
This is exactly what will happen, if the system is set up poorly. Read the comments on the article and you can see that this has already been mentioned:
1- teach the test!
2- teach the assessed content!
3- Give work back for students to correct and only give an A grade!
4- Put a timer in your class and use Piaget (Classical conditioning) for your student-constructed responses! Run your class like a military drill seargant! This will require that we throw away our Tomlinson (differentiated Instruction) and our Marzano (Classroom instrution that (could have) worked! But, what they hey! I can make more money if I train students like a salivating dog!! Let’s do it!
and oh yea! Do what your instructional evaluator says. Don’t be creative, spontaneous or inventive. Do what they say, as they say it and you can be the first to reach the top pay scale and get your “A”.
This kind of jaded comment isn’t unfounded, but it sure isn’t useful. It’s fun to play the role of the devil’s advocate pragmatist, but what can we do to make paying teachers make more sense?
What would you do if you were being judged on how well you aligned with your principal’s vision for his/her building? You’d try to align perfectly and at least give lip service to those things that you don’t believe in.
So, what does this require to make it work? It requires a team effort between teachers and administrators to identify the core strategies that make for good education. Oh boo hoo, you’d have to communicate ideas to make each other better teachers; cry me a river, jaded commenter.
The comments on the article are really telling, and are pretty obvious. Here’s the problem: defining what a good teacher is. Here are my solutions:
- A good teacher increases the rate of a student’s achievement. This has nothing to do with the magnitude of the kid’s raw score, only its derivative. (that is, if you have to use std test scores at all… barf) [haha I said, "std"]
- A good teacher implements practices that are supported by research. They also research their own practices for effectiveness through research-in-practice methods.
- A good teachers shows the intangibles necessary for teaching: compassion, love, intuition, flexibility, and the ability not to bite on the play-action.
I want to address point 2. This is the most important step that I feel most districts/teachers are not doing. Whenever this can of worms gets opened everyone starts balking and scoffing or making whatever generally percussive vocal sound they use to show distaste, and that cacophony generally surrounds this idea: all teachers and kids are different, so rigid pay-increase rules using student achievement are bad. This is true. So, shouldn’t it be incumbent upon the teacher to show how they know what they’re are doing is effective for this specific group of kids? Yes. Absolutely.
This is the piece we need to fight for. A framework for individual teachers to prove that their unique (or at least variations of) techniques were chosen for the good of their classroom dynamic. This, coupled with willingness to try new ideas, is a juggernaut of mass education. I’m preaching to choir here, I know.
Am I going to take this to my administration? You bet.
Bring the heat in the comments. Or, better yet, go comment in that article’s comments.
(Paradox-for-the-post: I’m in our teacher’s union. Also, sorry if you’re a union rep. and have been thoroughly offended.)