Like most states, in this bad economy, Georgia is struggling to pay for schools and teachers. Teachers were furloughed for three days in the fall, and we will probably have 3 more furlough days this semester. Next year looks just as bad, and some politicians advocate shortening the school year by as many as ten days.
Yesterday as I watched the local television news, a state legislator disclosed his idea for funding the schools. With obvious rancor, he suggested that teachers who are making $100,000 should be forced to retire so systems could replace them with $40,000 teachers.
Such thinking is indicative of what often hinders schools: shortsighted thinking.
Yes, forcing “expensive” teachers into retirement will save school systems money, but what about learning? Will it help students to force our most experienced teachers into retirement and replace them with brand new teachers? While it is indeed true that some outstanding first-year teachers are exemplary and more effective than many teachers with years and years of experience, those situations are rare. While the research is unclear as to when teaching experience levels off, the research is absolutely clear that teachers are more effective each additional year they teach for at least the first five years for elementary teachers, and high school teachers on average continue to improve for several more years. Schools need experienced teachers.
Now, perhaps the economy has reached such dire straits that we need to take bold moves as the senator suggested, but couldn’t he display a little more respect and ASK teachers who have met retirement criteria to retire instead of sneering about expensive teachers?
Yes, I am, indeed, one of the old expensive teachers. With 32 years of teaching and a doctorate, I am at the top of Georgia teachers’ salary schedule.
Where are these $100,000 Georgia teachers?
I don’t know a $100,000 Georgia teacher!
Trading in old $100,000 teachers for $40,000 teachers isn’t going to work if there are no $100,000 Georgia teachers!