Ny Times Letters: Luring, and Keeping, Good Teachers

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Here is one:

To the Editor:

We need more than salary incentives for teachers. Schools need to offer titles, modeled on the promotion procedures in teaching universities.

These titles would reflect expertise: apprentice teacher (for the first three years), teacher, master teacher and distinguished master teacher.

As teachers received promotions, with the higher ranks optional, they would be given merit pay, of course, but would also be expected to assume additional responsibilities for mentoring new faculty, assessing school performance and participating more actively in the administration of the school.

Would this be more work for harried teachers and administrators? Of course. But it wouldn’t be as time consuming as dealing with discouraged teachers and students.

Most important, this would give teachers public recognition of their achievements and a more respected voice in the profession.

Mary Ann Rishel

Read them all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducation

Posted August 31, 2007 at 5:26 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. Br. Michael wrote:

Nuts.  My Sister-in-Law di this in Florida withe promised pay raises.  When she had jumped through all the hoops, but befor the pay raise could be awarded, as an economy measure of course, the program was eleminated.  She didn’t get squat after doing every thing the program demanded.

August 31, 5:41 pm | [comment link]
2. Jeff Thimsen wrote:

Teachers’ unions will fight this just as they do merit pay proposals.

August 31, 7:36 pm | [comment link]
3. Wilfred wrote:

They could try spinning some of those giant spider-webs.

August 31, 9:57 pm | [comment link]
4. John B. Chilton wrote:

I agree #2. Schools that reward merit have a name. They’re called private schools.

September 1, 7:44 am | [comment link]
5. Pilgrim wrote:

If teachers want more pay and respect they must drastically reform the schools that prepare them, have more rigorous requirements and standards and wrest power away from parents.  As long as it is go along to get along, ride with the culture from fad to fad and fight attempts to improve quality you will continue to have a mediocre product, a lot of mediocre teachers, little respect and mediocre pay.  This is not to say that we don’t have many many fine committed teachers in spite of the obstacles, but the basic problem has been there for decades.  They let just about anyone be a teacher, whereas to be in the high paying fields a person needs more rigorous training and talents and personal attributes.  Why do sports figures make so much money?  Because not just anyone can do that.

September 1, 11:16 am | [comment link]
6. Nate wrote:

I think that (at least) two of the previously made points bear further exploration if not correction.
First is the idea that if only schools were free of teachers’ unions, education would be o.k.—In my experience, the teachers’ unions are the only thing keeping the anti-tax public honest in their commitment to pay teachers as professionals.
Second, (and my favorite) is the idea that teaching should be based on “merit.” To wax Socratic I would ask “and what standard of ‘merit’ should one use?” How about test scores? (that would certainly make sure teachers of rich kids would make more coin than others—though they often do anyway)—The point is that defining meritorious teaching can be problematic.
Third, is the idea that “just about anyone can become a teacher.” Two points, (first) American teachers have to take 3 different “praxis exams” to obtain, then keep their license. The general public would likely not pass the second & third, though a good high school graduate should pass the first. and (second) US education is charged with educating everyone—the system does not pick & choose who it educates. To suggest that the supply of teachers be artifically restricted (I talking about you #5) kind of ignores the vast numbers of teachers required in this society. If you’re going to play with the teaching numbers, there is (in my opinion) a better chance at simply making schooling non-compulsory again to ensure that the students there are (generally) the students who want to learn something.

September 1, 3:03 pm | [comment link]
7. Nate wrote:

The system mentioned in the article (apprentice teacher, master teacher, etc.) was (successfully) in place in the Rochester, NY schools during the 1970s/ 1980s (and maybe the ‘90s). It fell apart due to the unwillingness of the tax payers to support the system (alot of folks felt that since the majority of the highest ranked teachers’ time was spent developing their junior colleagues’ ability rather than in the classroom, it was a waste of resources).

September 1, 3:09 pm | [comment link]
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