IF YOU WANT THE BEST SCHOOLS, GET THE BEST TEACHERS
If you want the best teachers, offer the best package of salary and working conditions.
Pretty simple !!
We know a great teacher when we see one. You walk into their classroom and immediately feel the energy -- the way they engage their students -- and their passion for their subject. They aren't famous, but if there were a Nobel Prize for teaching algebra or history or anything, you'd nominate them.
We need dedicated teachers and working conditions that sustain them. In the primary grades where young students are the most vulnerable, teachers are the most important people they meet. Everything teachers say and do become the standard. In the higher grades teachers are the role models who influence students' choice of higher education or vocation. Without teachers, nobody learns. Placing a high quality teacher in the daily life of every
child is the most important strategy any school board can use to insure student achievement.
Despite the recognition of the central importance of teachers in children's lives, the teaching profession is under siege. There is a salary gap between teachers and other college graduates. There is attrition -- 35% of new teachers leave teaching in their first five years, and there is a 10-15% turnover in our county every year. Enrollment in teachers' colleges is down 40-60%, raising serious questions about where tomorrow's teachers will come from. And almost every school district (including Henderson County) has vacant positions which go unfilled.
Extensive research has been done to reveal the dissatisfactions with teaching as a life vocation. The consistent findings are:
* Inadequate salaries
* Lack of respect for the profession
* The perception that teachers are undervalued in the community
* Inadequate compensation for experience and seniority
* Little support and mentoring for beginning teachers
* Missing emphasis on and support for professional development
* Undefined career progression
* Failure to involve classroom teachers in decision-making
A licensed teacher may accept employment in any school district in the state. The Henderson County public schools are competing for the best teachers with the other 114 school districts in North Carolina, and with Virginia and South Carolina which pay up to $10,000 a year more. In North Carolina teachers' base salaries come from the state. Then, each county in North Carolina is permitted to supplement teachers' base salaries as they see fit. The County Commission and the School Board should review the salaries of our teachers and teacher concerns about working conditions and career advancement, and address these problems in new, innovative and substantive ways.
Opinion: MAKE HENDERSON COUNTY A MAGNET SCHOOL DISTRICT FOR TEACHERS
* Start cooperative programs with colleges of education for their students to do the required student teaching in Henderson County, and include housing and per diem living allowances as an attraction for the student teachers. "We want you to come here"
* Offer a comprehensive financial package for new recruits that includes double the current salary supplement to base salaries,
a signing (relocation) bonus, and step-wise student loan forgiveness
* Offer a similar top-shelf financial package for experienced teachers looking to relocate
* Raise salaries for current teachers by increasing the county supplement; be No. 1 in North Carolina, competitive with neighboring states, and competitive with private sector jobs requiring similar education
* Offer tuition support and paid time off to study for National Board certification and master's degrees
* Provide a housing allowance for new county residents [Buncombe County is building subsided housing for teachers]
* Start a mentoring program for beginning teachers
* Offer day care for teachers' children
* Study how in-school decisions are made, and develop recommendations for including classroom teachers in decisions
* Increase supplements for additional duties requiring after-hours work: coaches, music performance, yearbook, etc
* Institute salary step raises for teachers in each of Years 2-9 of employment (the vulnerable years), and every two years thereafter
* Restore the cadre of classroom assistants in the elementary schools
* Guarantee there will be no change in medical and retirement benefits
* Instill a culture of respect in school
* Community involvement:
"Teacher Courtesy Cards" for discounts at all local business (for police and firefighters, too)
A new, special Henderson County Teacher license plate
County-wide teacher recognition days, fairs, athletic competitions, etc
The recent 4.7% raise in the state-paid base salary is indeed welcome, if a bit late. Assuming the counties maintain their current supplements, the average teacher salary will be $50,150. But since many other states including South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and Georgia are also raising teacher pay, the estimate is that North Carolina may move up two places in the national ranking, but gain nothing and remain behind the neighboring states with which we compete. (Source: The Public School Forum; added July 1, 2016)
We need to show our teachers we care about them. Henderson County can no longer afford to undervalue the contributions
of teachers to our children and our community. IT'S NOT ABOUT NEW MONEY AND IT'S NOT ABOUT RAISING TAXES. It's about rearranging money we already have to reflect our priorities.
Teaching is the most noble profession. Teachers are like candles -- they consume themselves to brighten the lights of others
THE TEACHING PROFESSION
ISSUES IN EDUCATION, p. 3