Is Increasing Teacher Pay a Good Idea?


Cartoon by Clay Bennett

We still haven’t seen what exactly will be in Governor Branstad’s education reform wish list to the Legislature who will go into their new session on Monday.  Radio Iowa reports that teacher pay will be one major component.

I’ve got mixed feelings on the teacher pay idea.

1. I’m not against an increase in pay and I support the idea of merit pay.  Some teachers are paid abysmally, others have a great salary and benefits.  I believe the step and level pay plan most teachers are on is counterproductive as it can force younger teachers who may be quality teachers out of the profession early.  On the flipside it could keep mediocre or substandard teachers who are older in the profession because it’s hard to leave money like that.  The longer you stay in the system the better your pay is and only because you’ve bided time.

2.  The idea that teacher pay is the answer to all of our education woes (I’m not saying everyone who advances this idea believes that, but some do) is misguided.  All you have to do is look at private schools where teachers are paid less, but students have a higher level of achievement.  Look at homeschooling where teachers (parents) don’t get paid at all and end up sacrificing money in order to do that and those students tend to do well.

3.  This isn’t something the state can or should decide.  Should a starting teacher in Manly, Iowa make the same as a teacher in Des Moines?  I don’t believe so.  Not to mention some school districts simply can’t afford an increase.  Even if Iowa said it would cover the difference that is assuming we can afford it.  Education already takes up 60% of the state budget, it really should go beyond that.  This would be yet another decision that would be stripped from local school boards.

About Shane Vander Hart

Shane Vander Hart founded Iowans for Local Control in 2012 which later merged with Iowa RestorEd. Shane also is the founder and editor-in-chief of Caffeinated Thoughts and the founder and president of 4:15 Communications, LLC, a social media & communications consulting/management firm.  You can connect with Shane on Facebook or follow him on Twitter and Google +.

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