The pay rates of education professionals are usually based on the amount of education and the number of years of service that the educator has. In public school settings, salaries typically aren’t negotiated and are only adjusted when an educator earns a higher degree or completes additional years of service. If an educator wishes to make more money for his or her work the options are limited. He or she may opt to attend graduate school in order to earn a new degree in an education field, seek part time employment inside or outside the school district, or try to obtain a position within the field that lies outside of the classroom.

Talent nor extraordinary professional expertise have any bearing on an individual educator’s salary if he or she wishes to remain a classroom teacher. Given the options, most exemplary educators will opt to seek work outside of the classroom in order to command a salary that is commensurate with his or her experience and expertise.

This is acceptable until we realize that we are essentially telling the people who are the best at teaching children that we will only reward them for their service and expertise…if they stop working directly with children. We are far too accepting of the departure of effective teachers from the classroom in order to justify paying them more for their knowledge and expertise.

I applaud the educators who have a passion for the field and who go on to become building administrators, instructional coaches, or central office employees because they have the talent, skill, and desire to take on a new challenge, or those who wish to serve their school district in a different capacity. However, I wonder how many teachers leave the classroom for the promise of a larger paycheck rather than because they are interested in doing something different in the field. How many of those administrators and coaches would have stayed in the classroom if they could be compensated for exemplary service in their current position?

I don’t know the answer to that question, but I would hazard a guess and say that many of the individuals who have gone on to jobs outside of the classroom would have remained classroom teachers if an evaluation tool that could fairly and consistently evaluate their effectiveness and on which to base adjustments in compensation, existed.

What are your thoughts on the matter ? Do you think teachers are fairly compensated ? Do you believe they should have the ability to negotiate their salary based on their experience and history of service?

Talent and Teacher Pay: How To Retain The Best

4 thoughts on “Talent and Teacher Pay: How To Retain The Best

  • April 13, 2014 at 10:11 pm

    I don’t think that teachers are equitably compensated. I also think that a viable career path for teachers who wish to remain in the classroom needs to be created. Not all really desire to move into administration, but do so because of the significant increase in salary. Sends a message, doesn’t it?

    • April 14, 2014 at 8:57 am

      I completely agree. It sends that message that our field, and by extension the public, value administrators more than they do the work of teachers. I think the recent public flogging that teachers have taken in the media over the past few years has a lot to do with that. I’d like to believe that if teachers collectively took a more pro-active approach to defining our field and emphasizing the importance of our work, without sounding preachy or angry, then we could convey our value to the public.

  • May 1, 2014 at 10:22 am

    I agree that teachers need higher pay. But I also think work conditions are important. We have asked more of teachers than ever before but we have overall kept the same factory model of work organization. How do you build lessons around student thinking when you have 50 minutes of daily paid time to plan, grade, meet with colleagues or email parents? Also there is some interesting research regarding retaining teachers of color that suggests schools engaged in critical education projects — that are organized to truly lift and educate students — do a better job retaining ToCs because they engage a moral vision of education.

    • May 2, 2014 at 8:57 am

      I certainly agree that more than money is needed to attract, and retain the best teachers in the classroom. However, my concern is that if an exemplary teacher wants to make more money for his or her work that their only options are to go get an advanced degree or to leave the classroom. Those options don’t align with the idea of the teacher as a professional.

      More planning time, critical education projects, and other efforts to demonstrate the State’s commitment to education are fantastic ways to increase morale and to create positive working environments where educators are able to focus on teaching and learning. All that being said, creating pathways for educators to earn more $$$ while remaining in the classroom would go a long way for me in showing that the State is serious about how much they actually value classroom teachers.


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