Saturday, September 14, 2019

Kim Frencken: More thoughts about equal pay for teachers

I want to clarify what I was communicating in my last blog.

 First, I have worked with many special education and specials teachers and/or coaches over the years. Some I've admired tremendously. I spent 21 years as a general education teacher, but the last three I've been, what I call, a specials teacher. 

No, I did not receive a sign-on bonus. I wouldn't want one. I want to be part of a teaching team, not set apart from the beginning. I am, however, respected and appreciated. Two things money can't buy.

If a district offers a sign-on bonus to get a particular coach or fill a teaching position, there is something wrong with the picture. 

If someone has to be paid a sign-on bonus to sign a contract, there is something else going on. If there are not enough teacher candidates to fill available positions, the trend is signifying that something in the world of education is not quite right. Sign-on bonuses are only bandaids. They only fix the problem temporarily. 

Teachers will go above and beyond if they are respected and treated professionally. Plain and simple. We don't need gimmicks or dollars. We don't need sign on bonuses. We need to be treated as professionals. We need support. We need respect.

When a district gets desperate and offers a special sign-on bonus, that no one else receives, they've set a precedent. They've communicated to the rest of their hard working, loyal staff that they don't matter. All that matters is filling an empty position. At any cost.

Look around your school. Watch the news. Teachers are under attack. And you wonder why some districts have to offer a sign-on bonus to get someone to join their staff. 

Sometimes it isn't even someone who is certified or licensed to teach. But they have enough college hours to count. They get a bonus. Renewed every year they stay and the rest of the certified staff get a step up the regular pay scale, if salaries aren't frozen.

Teachers who attend 'after school day' meetings, write IEPs on weekends, accompany a class on a week-end field trip, or spend hours coaching should receive a stipend, but everyone should start on the same pay scale. Going outside the normal teaching day should be compensated.

During my general education years, I lost numerous plan times, covering for coaches while they left for an away game. Coaches received a stipend for coaching (as they should for putting in extra hours). I was paid the staggering fee of $7.00. I'm not joking. Wait. It gets worse. The district decided that instead of paying $7.00 ( it was too much), the coach would cover us on his/her plan time to 'repay' other teachers for taking their class. I was paid a base salary that included a daily plan time only I rarely got my daily plan time. I had to do my grading, planning, etc. on my own time. I was not compensated. It went with the territory. Now, tell me... is that fair?

And this is what I was talking about. Treating some individuals differently. Offering perks to certain individuals, but not paying others for the extra hours they are giving. Treating staff as competitors and not members of a team.

 (For more of Kim Frencken's writing, check out her blog, Chocolate For the Teacher.)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Generalizing about the hours of work teachers put in doesn’t seem to be getting you what you want. Maybe teachers should do research to back it up. I’m talking about studies that can show your worked hours in black and white, show the money teachers spend out of pocket for classrooms. I agree the pay/hours for teachers isn’t right. It seems to me teachers are going to have to put it in black and white to make their point.

I’m a nurse. Nurses who work in specialty areas get more pay. Nursing units that can’t get enough nurses will offer sign on bonuses. What message is that being sent to the loyal and faithful? I don’t like it but I guess it’s a matter of supply/demand. Just take a look at Mercy or Freeman open nurse positions, last I looked there were a lot of sign on bonuses being offered.

At any rate, I think teachers are underpaid for sure. I don’t think change is gonna happen until teachers get their act together.