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Brewing Up a Plan for Better Teacher Compensation


Megan M. Allen

As I process last week's posts and comments, I get a little adrenaline-filled. Why? Because what's brewing is an outline of how to move forward with teacher compensation. I embrace the fact that I'm a little bit of a Pollyanna, but I see some actionable steps cooking. Here's what I'm thinking:

Find the funding as Matthew Holland suggested in his piece and as I heard in a lunch address from U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan last week at the National Network of State Teachers of the Year conference. Duncan's comments? Rethink money allocation ... especially for textbooks. I agree whole-heartedly with this. It's an important point to bring up in a day where information in textbooks changes even before they land in the nymph-like hands of our little learners. (I am cautiously looking over my shoulder for Houghton Mifflin/Harcourt ninjas as I type this). Which makes me realize that we should...

Educate ourselves on school spending. Imagine if we as teachers knew more about education budgets and could weigh-in at the federal, state, and/or local levels to offer solid solutions from a teacher's perspective. I don't know where we would find the time or brain space considering our already looming to-do lists, but it sure would add a lot more bang in our conversational buck.

Write detailed job descriptions. Varied education positions require different skill sets, training, time, context, and intensity. Teaching positions are not one-size-fits-all. If we spent some time on rethinking the job descriptions and context as suggested by Marsha Ratzel and Brooke Peters, then we would have a starting point for differentiated pay. They do this in medicine, law, and other professions. What about education?

Compensate for professional growth opportunities. I can speak from my experience here with one specific example. The transformation I experienced with the National Board-certification process was monumental to increasing my effectiveness and impact as a teacher. It morphed me into an uber-reflective, student-centered teacher. When educators go through that kind of an intense evolution that improves their skills, it should be compensated.

Which brings me back around to base pay. It's not a silver bullet solution, but it's a great foundation in building a better compensation system to meet the challenging demands of educators and attack issues of recruitment and retention in this great profession.

So now that I have all this adrenaline, what we can do to move forward and change this growing list of possibilities and actionable steps to reality?

Megan Allen is a 2012-13 teacherpreneur with the Center for Teaching Quality and Hillsborough County Public Schools in Florida.

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