One of the top stories in the Sunday edition of The Savannah Morning News this week concerned the Savannah-Chatham public schools "striving to keep teacher pay competitive." It's a noble cause, of course, and good teachers deserve to be rewarded with excellent pay. Having been a teacher both full time and part-time I can tell you first hand that there's a lot of preparation and planning for just one class. Then there are assignments to grade, tests to grade and decisions one has to make as a teacher in how to grade each student...it's not just a test score. The hours spent outside the classroom is extremely time consuming. It is an enormous responsibility. Most teachers will tell you truthfully they aren't doing it "for the money." NO KIDDING!!! They do it for the joy of teaching young minds and seeing those minds opened, growing and maturing. And if you want to teach and have the qualifications you should not have a problem getting a job with the SCCPSS (Savannah-Chatham County Public School System because they have about 400 openings a year.
Ann Meyer's SMN article pointed out that the school system is looking for "career switchers" and teachers from out of state since the colleges are "not turning out new teachers in the quantity school systems require.." and the school system finds not only is it hard to find good, qualified teachers but keeping them is another trick. One issue was pay...which, isn't bad, $41,000 for teachers with with zero to nine years of service. "Career switchers" with a bachelor's degree are paid a "pathway" level of $37,500 for teachers with zero to two years experience. The article went on to give examples of bonuses and master's degrees and other systems in the state showing how much more a teacher can make in the Atlanta area than here. One of the problems with that, in my never-to-be-humble opinion is having to live in the Atlanta area. While some areas are quite nice, I would hate to put up with that traffic on a daily basis.
It is quite noble for our school system here to want to increase teacher pay and they've just hit us taxpayers for more money increasing the millage rate. But Meyer's article says most of that money is going for "safety, security and student well being." (Will someone please tell me what "student well being" is)? And there's a way a teacher can earn another $2,000 bonus by going to the so-called "turnaround schools." These are the schools where the students are not performing up to par or better. Said teacher has to agree to teach at one of these schools for at least three years, however. And it's worse in South Carolina. The article pointed out that Beaufort County is so desperate they're paying a $5,000 bonus in addition to the published salary scale to all teachers. School Board President Earl Campbell tells the paper that the Palmetto State has a huge problem recruiting teachers because corporations offer a lot more money.
Someone notify the school boards and systems--money is not the major problem. Many teachers are taking their lives in their hands when they walk into their classrooms. While that may be the extreme many teachers have to put up with disruptive kids and have little recourse...sending them to the office doesn't help. They're back in class soon if not the very next day causing trouble again. Then there is the the bureaucratic and politically-correct garbage. You can't give kids a failing grade because it might hurt their feelings. You have to celebrate "diversity" and put up with getting kids prepared for the next standardized test every three weeks or so. Yes, I know we paint with a "broad brush" but teachers do not enjoy the status they once had when they were the kings and queens of their classrooms. It has always been a noble and honorable profession and nothing's too good for a good teacher--but all teachers are not good (like any other profession). Teachers need to be able to get rid of the troublemakers even if there are ten of them. Question is, what to do with them? I'm open for suggestions.
As the old saying goes: "Good teachers cost more but bad teachers cost most."