Teacher Salary Schedules
In last week's Update I related my thoughts on the teacher shortage problem. I would now like to start conversations concerning possible solutions. I have thought for years that one of the biggest problems for attracting individuals to the teaching profession is starting teacher salaries. When high school students are researching possible career choices one of the statistics they will become aware of is starting salaries.
According to a Forbes June 28, 2017, article titled "College Degrees With the Highest (And Lowest) Starting Salaries in 2017," the top-paying bachelor's degree is electrical engineering with a starting salary of $62,428. Software design earns new graduates an average of $61,466. The bottom section of the list of bachelor's degrees and their average starting pay looks like this:
- History - $38,361
- English - $38,303
- Psychology - $38,002
- Elementary Education - $37,803
- Anthropology/sociology - $37,672
- Social Work - $37,115
- Pre-K & Kindergarten Education - $35,626
The problem, I believe, starts with union/board-bargained teacher salary schedules. Teacher salary schedules I have dealt with in my career result in the top salary schedule spot being two and sometimes three times the beginning salary spot. The difference between the highest paid teacher and the lowest paid teacher continues to escalate as unions and boards of education continue to agree on salary increases in percent increases instead of dollar increases.
Several Illinois school districts have moved to either eliminate the traditional salary schedule or to severely modify it for all new teachers to the school district. Part of the solution for getting more high school and college students to consider education as a vocation is to increase the beginning teacher salary.
In addition to increasing the teacher salary base, educators need to consider other models besides years of experience and degrees earned as a way of increasing teacher pay. Teachers participating as instructional coaches, volunteering to lead teacher training on instructional strategies, leading professional learning community discussions, working on curriculum and instructional strategy work during the summer, etc., should be criteria for salary increases.
Tip of the Week
One of the best strategies I ever learned concerning the social and emotional well-being of others came from a principal I was working with. The district had employed me as a consultant/trainer to lead the district's administrators on an exercise we used to call "walkthroughs." We now call these brief visits to classrooms informal observations.
When I arrived at the school to talk to the principal about the day's schedule, the secretary told me that the principal was out in front of the school. I needed to talk to the principal before school started so the secretary had a student helper direct me to where the principal was standing. He was standing in front of the school and he was greeting students randomly as they entered. He would shake hands with the students, say something to them either about their school life or their personal life, then greet the next student and so forth. Later during the day, I noticed each teacher, every class period doing the same thing as classes were changing. The teachers would stand at the entrance of their classroom doors and greet each student with a hand shake and personal comment.
This school was a multi-cultural school with a mix of high income to low income students. It was a high performing school with what looked like few or no discipline problems and respect among students, between students and staff members, and among staff members.
The first step to addressing student and staff social and emotional issues is to show students and staff that you care about them as individuals. I recently read an article in ASCD Express titled "Social-Emotional Learning Starts with Adults," by Meena Srinivasan. You can read it here. The author shared four critical questions - originally written by Maya Angelou - we unconsciously ask each other all the time:
- Do you see me?
- Do you care that I'm here?
- Am I enough for you, or do you need me to be better in some way?
- Can I tell that I'm special to you by the way you look at me?
I have shared this story many times in leading administrator trainings. One new principal in a school that needed much work took this story to heart and started greeting students as they came to school. He slowly got teachers to greet students as they entered their classrooms. He informed me that after a year of concentrating on visibly knowing and caring about others the school's culture and climate was transformed.