I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Can We Better Reward Teachers Who Remain in High Poverty Schools for Their Entire Career?

Teachers who work at schools in the suburbs with robust PTAs and tons of parental support and involvement  are fortunate;  They have students that in many cases are more supported at home, and therefore the discipline issues are not as significant and the overall work environment is better for these teachers. 
Room moms are available, volunteers show up, and overall the environment is better.  It is for this reason that most teachers start out in the inner-city, work 5-6 years, then move to a less diverse and less poverty stricken location, and then at the 10-13 year mark, when enough seniority is under these teachers’ belts, the move is made to the low poverty low diversity schools with great support from the community—and this is where many teachers will finish out their careers.
I find no fault with this, other than the fact that we are sometimes beat up about our teacher churn rate at the inner city schools and the lower percentage of veteran teachers at the average high poverty school.
So what could be done to entice more teachers to stay at the poverty stricken, ethnically diverse inner city schools?
I recently brought up the idea of developing a revised pay-scale for new hires that rewards teachers who stay in the inner city schools, with bumps in pay at the 5 year mark, 10 year mark, and 15 years and thereafter.  I’d like to see the pay tied to schools with high rates of “free lunch” (perhaps 90% or higher).  The scales would be revenue neutral, meaning that at the ten year mark, a teacher at the suburban school would be making less than a teacher who spent ten years in the high poverty schools.  And the delta between the High poverty track teacher pay and the Suburban teacher track pay would end up, at year 25, being about $7,000-$10,000. 
I think this sort of a scenario would encourage veterans to stay in the inner city schools longer in their careers—which may help us drive higher achievement at these schools if we can stabilize the extreme churn rates and keep some stability.

I intend to discuss this concept at our upcoming board workshop to see if there is any support for such a concept.


Anonymous said...

I feel like this is asking for trouble. Although the idea of pay raises is music to my or any teachers ears, it could be a disaster. Lets face it the teachers that are here for the money, arent that great, they use little to no creativity, and sit around and pass the fcat by doing the littlest amount possible. I feel like maybe if you add the condition of this pay bump that a certain percentge of students must pass the FCAT. It just might work. However, I fear that one you will get is a two catalysts bringing these school further into a ditch. First you have students who genuinely dont do well from a lack of support at home and in the community and then youll get teachers as "sitting ducks" waiting out a pay raise along with retirement. Thus, you created a recipe for disaster. Provided you fin the right teachers, willing to do what it takes, its a great idea, but all too often I find teachers sitting around teaching the test, and ultimately just doing what little they can to get by and get a paycheck.

Jeff Bergosh said...

Like the School Board did by jumping out of the box, working collaboratively, and becoming proactive in combating illegal drugs on campus--we need to use the same strategy to address the issues you raise. We have tried merit pay to drive achievement, but the data used was faulty-there were no good, agreed upon metrics to measure what a "good teacher" is/was. And the Teacher's labor Union fought us to the death trying to kill merit pay locally and statewide. I think merit pay is in a "stalemate" statewide position right now, So Merit Pay is gone from our district for the near term until the legislature figures out how to force it. Our problem now is achievement in the inner-city schools. Making headway on this front requires a huge commitment from multiple stakeholders-the majority of which are outside the control of our district (Families,communities) So, with respect to what we can do--we CAN take affirmative steps to retain teachers in hard to staff schools. We CAN provide great facilities-Which we are doing, and we CAN provide training and professional development, which we are doing (we will be voting to spend $270,000 this upcoming year on leadership development and training from The Studer Education Group to help our struggling schools do better. We are making the investments necessary, but we are not getting follow through from parents and communities--which means we have to keep trying new strategies and never give up, we have to keep working hard and never back down in the face of resistance to ideas that are unpopular but that are worthwhile--like rewarding teachers who work in the most challenging schools their whole career with additional pay--which I will advocate for and which I will continue to support.