Department of Education

FEDERAL PAYMENT OF TEACHERS' SALARIES

FEDERAL PAY SCHEDULE FOR PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHERS’ SALARIES [FPTS] “EQUAL PAY FOR EQUAL WORK—NO TEACHER LEFT BEHIND” --Maurice M. Martinez and John Fischetti University of North Carolina Wilmington June 15, 2011 THE PROBLEM: The ongoing malaise in the economy, with no end in sight, is forcing many governors and state legislatures to claim that they are unable to sustain current levels of funding support to maintain and expand existing programs in K-12 public schools and in higher education. Across the country, as the 2011 fiscal year ends, major reductions in expenditures for public education are occurring that dramatically impact student learning and particularly classroom teachers. Some examples of major cuts have included: freezing of salaries or salary furloughs, reduction in retirement and health care benefits, cutting teacher assistants, decreasing school administrators, increasing class size limitations, cutting funding for textbooks, eliminating professional development, etc. Some states, like Florida, have proposals moving forward to eliminate tenure or, like Wisconsin, recently had attempts to eliminate collective bargaining rights for state workers including teachers. Inequities in the payment of teachers’ salaries abound. How is it that a third grade teacher in suburban Scarsdale, New York, earns a base pay entry level salary of $52,652 a year while a third grade teacher in a rural district in North Carolina is paid an entry level salary of less than $30,000? And at the top of the salary scale (20 years or more teaching), maximum pay in Scarsdale was $127,945 compared to Wilmington, North Carolina at $57,810 (2008-2009 figures). Is this “EQUAL PAY FOR EQUAL WORK?” Teaching third grade is teaching third grade. America already has in place federally paid salary models that work in Government Service (GS); the Military; and the Postal Service. For example, a military officer is paid an equitable salary, no matter where he or she is stationed. Housing subsidies are paid to military officers in high cost living areas. Why not compensate teachers who work in the same high cost living areas? To those teachers who claim that their jobs are more demanding in so-called “tough” schools in poverty-ridden inner-city areas, just as America provides extra “combat pay” to soldiers who are ordered to a war zone, we should compensate teachers with “tough school” extra pay in like fashion. If we are serious about improving our educational system, about attracting the best and the brightest to teach in our public schools, then we must pay our teachers equitably. In basketball legend Michael Jordan’s high school in Wilmington, North Carolina, athletic coaches and trainers were paid less than FIFTY CENTS [50 cents] an hour (when one adds up all of the practice hours after school and game nights and weekend games). In addition, the baseball coach at this same high school was required to ride a lawnmower to cut the grass in the outfield from November to May [6 months work] for a stipend payment of one hundred [$100] dollars that was taxed 46%. [See attached film documentary titled: “NO TEACHER LEFT BEHIND” (three and a half years in the making) by Maurice M. Martinez]. The head coach was also required to take a training course to become a certified school bus driver, since the district said that they could not afford to pay a bus driver to take the team to a game. For this extra job, coaches were paid a supplement of ten [$10] dollars for games played within the county, and thirty [$30] dollars for any game played outside of the county, some of which were 120 miles away. All supplements in North Carolina were taxed 44% to 46%. Is this the way we value our coaches who produce star athletes like Michael Jordan and who provide wholesome sports and fitness activities for our youth? It is no wonder that teachers and coaches are leaving the profession in large numbers. Education has been determined by the Supreme Court of the United States to be a civil right guaranteed to all citizens under equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Thomas Jefferson and his colleagues understood at the founding of this country, that the key element to protecting our fragile democracy from tyranny on one end and anarchy on the other is a strong education system. The present arrangement in the educational system in America is moving toward an oligarchy where the children of a wealthy class reap the benefits over others from less privileged classes. A ticket to prosperity and future job security comes from obtaining a degree from a top tier university or college. Prestige dominates the choice – in spite of lip-service declarations from many corporations that “we are an equal opportunity employer.” Top tier “prestige” rules in the hierarchy of college degrees. Data indicate that seventy-four [74%] percent of students at the top 146 colleges come from the wealthiest twenty-five [25%] percent of the U.S. population. Only three [3%] percent of students at the top 146 colleges come from the poorest twenty-five [25%] of the U.S. population. Half of the low-income students who graduate from high school with minimal qualifications for college enroll in a four-year college, half the rate of their high-income peers. Approximately one in two students from high-income families (earning $90,000 annually) graduate with a bachelor’s degree by age 24, compared with one in 17 students from low-income families (earning less than $35,000 annually). Of those students who graduate from college, 73% come from the highest income families compared to 55% of students from low-income families. America’s untapped resource: Low-income students in higher education. Researchers have demonstrated that effective teachers impact student learning more than any other variable. There is little debate that teacher quality matters. Fifteen-year-old research findings from Sanders and Rivers (1996) and Hanushek, Kain and Rivkin (1998) documented that the teacher in the classroom is the single biggest determinant for student success. As defined by a core curriculum, increasing demands on teachers--in areas of assessment, data collection and analysis--require teachers to employ strategies of intervention for “At Risk” low-performing students and enrichment strategies for students performing at or above grade level to assure that every child is prepared with 21st century skills and knowledge to apply those skills. It is time to recognize the importance of education in America by rewarding our teachers in the public schools by paying them a living wage, not shortchanging them by paying them a salary that qualifies them, in many cases, for food stamps. It is a sad commentary on America when a bartender can earn more than a teacher with a Master’s degree and five years experience. Many teachers are forced to take extra jobs after school and on weekends just to make ends meet in today’s economy. Teachers should not have to do this, to lose time that they could be using to prepare engaging lessons and activities for their students. As we look to countries currently ahead of us in PISA data on student achievement around the world, the status and salaries they provide for teachers are at a much higher level. A SOLUTION: Option 1. Federal Payment-in-Full for Teachers’ Salaries There are about three million public school teachers in America in 1008 school districts. Ninety percent of the more than $600 billion K-12 education budget is funded by state and local governments, with the Federal government contributing about 10%. Teachers’ salaries consist of 59% of the total budget. Inequities result between districts because of the funding formulas administered by the States toward teachers’ salaries. Because local property taxes are the primary source of local revenue supporting public education, the inequities in wealth across communities, even in the same region of a state, create pockets of extreme wealth and pockets of extreme poverty. States allow local districts to set salary schedules. Wealthy districts which generate more property tax pay teachers more, and thus attract more qualified teachers. These wealthy districts retain and develop their best teachers while low-salary districts experience a high turnover rate. The focus on local funding as the primary source for teacher salaries creates inequities in the quality of education. SAT scores are correlated significantly with zip code and family income. Wealthy communities offer larger salaries for teachers by providing added supplements. They also pay more for additional duties, such as coaching and after-school tutoring and extracurricula enrichment activities. As education became a civil right protected under the fourteenth amendment’s equal protection clause in Brown v. Board and subsequent federal legislation, issues of teacher quality are paramount in providing equitable education for all students. It is time to level the playing field. Our recommendation is to provide each teacher in America a salary that values them as professionals, with a starting annual school year salary of $65,000 (2011 dollars) with benefits, and a top salary after 20 years of service of $225,000 with medical benefits, paid for in full (100%) by the Federal government. This is a win-win solution. Under this proposal, states and local governments would not pay for public school teacher salaries and benefits. The resulting savings from state and local budgets would provide relief to them. It is estimated that the cost of the above recommended salary schedule to the Federal government would be around $660 billion dollars. Obviously the next question is: “Where would the money come from?” Consider the following sources: Military: We now spend one million dollars a year for EACH soldier. Six weeks in the war in Afghanistan would cover a lot; under the Bush administration we spent $10 billion plus a month on the war in Iraq. Reduction in weapons of war and military spending alone could cover the needs of teachers’ salaries. Tax the Wealthy at the Same Proportion as the Middle Class: This would provide more revenues and resources for education. Eliminate Oil Company subsidies: Contrast the billions of taxpayer dollars given to an industry that is making huge profits at the gasoline pumps with the 50 cents an hour we have paid the coaches and trainers in Michael Jordan’s high school: do we value education of not? Reduce Foreign Aid: Why do we continue to siphon off taxpayer dollars to support hostile nations, such as Pakistan, who use our money to build a stockpile of atom bombs for a possible future war with India? Why do we continue to occupy other countries with thousands of our troops when there is no need? (Witness: Germany and Korea). Korea and Japan, now protected by our troops, diverted their resources from the military into education. Korea and Japan now have some of the finest schools, libraries and universities in the world. Option 2. Sliding Scale Federal Payments A second budget option would be to implement a “sliding scale” based upon the wealth of each state. Wealthy states like Connecticut would receive less (10%) of the Federal Pay for Teachers Salaries (FPTS), whereas poorer States like Mississippi would receive more FTPS (90%). The Federal government is presently taking a closer look at disbursements to States of Title I monies using a sliding scale of wealthy to economically poor States. The solutions recommended here are doable if we have the will to enact them. America needs to invest in our teachers, now. Our motto should be: NO TEACHER LEFT BEHIND. References Anthony P. Carnevale and Strphen J. Rose, “Socioeconomic Status, Race/Ethnicity and Selective College Admissions,” The Century Foundation, New York, March 2003. “Cost Remains a Key Obstacle to College Access,” Richard D. Kahlenberg, Chronicle of Higher Education, March 10, 2006. ECS Education Commission of the States Clearing House. Phone interview with researcher Mike Griffith. (May, 2011). Hanushek, E.A., Kain, J.F., & Rivkin, S.G. (1998). Teachers, schools, and academic achievement. National Bureau of Economic Research. (NBER Working Paper No. w6691). NEA National Education Association, database. Protheroe, Nancy (1998). The blob revisited. The School Administrator. AASA American Association of School Administrators. Roza, Marguerite & Hill, Paul T. (2004). How within-district spending inequalities help some schools to fail. Brookings Papers on Education Policy, no. 7. Sanders, W. L., & Rivers, J.C. (1996). Cumulative and residual effects of teachers on future student academic achievement. Knoxville. Teacher Compensation Papers. (2008). (CPRE Consortium for Policy Research in Education at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. U. S. Census Bureau, population data. NOTE: Please note this ideal comes from a friend of mind, and maybe it is a good ideal. Thanks for allowing the American people a voice in our government. Joel LeBeau

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Idea No. 17902