Notes on Teacher Pay

This post is a summary of the writing I’ve done over time on teacher pay and on the importance of investing in and supporting teachers.

Most recently, I wrote about Tennessee’s history of low investment in teachers. In this piece, I contend that while Tennessee policymakers often talk about teacher support, they also fail to deliver with actual dollars.

I also wrote in early October about the teacher shortage in Arizona, a direct result of low pay for teachers and a punitive evaluation system. This piece talks about how not investing in teachers is a direct harm to students.

I’ve written, too, about Teacher Town, USA – a proposed project in Memphis, TN designed to offer teacher a work environment with good pay and solid support. I concluded that this dream will not be realized because when it comes to investing in schools, Tennessee’s long-term history is not very positive.

In April, I wrote about Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam’s betrayal of teachers — having promised them a raise and then taking it back instead of using other means to balance the state budget.

In December of 2013, I wrote that you “can’t buy groceries with gratitude.”  Here, I note that teachers are often thanked, but not truly rewarded. Teachers can’t pay the mortgage with a thank you card. They can’t keep the heat on with a nice note. If policymakers and communities want to thank teachers, they should show them their gratitude with investment in pay and support.

And in April of 2012, I wrote in response to Bill Frist that the way to help improve our schools was to invest in teachers by paying them more.

What’s the point of all this? If we want to support our teachers and show our students how important education is, we will invest in teachers. When we fail to invest in teachers, we send a message to students that education is not that important. That it is not a top policy priority. It tells those kids that they don’t matter, because if they did, the people charged with educating them would be highly valued, and not just thanked, but also compensated professionally.

For more on education policy issues, follow @TheAndySpears

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