Dear Dick Yarbrough: From week to week, I look forward to your column. It is usually refreshing and on point. After reading your article on Jan. 16, regarding your service on the Education Reform Commission, I am afraid I have to take issue with a comment you made that reads: “The idea is to give local school systems more say in how to reward teachers based on their performance and not solely on years on the job or advanced degrees. Not a bad concept. It is one that I lived with in the corporate world for four decades.”
Dick, there are so many things wrong with that statement. First of all, the corporate world rewards its employees with raises, trips, bonuses and all sorts of gadgets and gizmos. Second, teachers don’t have that luxury. My goodness a teacher workday is like Christmas because they get to go eat lunch out!
Third, that statement minimizes the importance of teachers furthering their education. Historically, that is the only way teachers could advance in the ranks to improve their pay. Fourth, it minimizes the veteran teachers who are the grease that turns the wheels in schools. Their experience and expertise is extremely valuable in so many ways.
Like you, my family has a history in Georgia’s public schools. My husband is finishing his 44th year, I taught for 31 in a Georgia public school and now both of our children are teaching. Here is my question: What will that local school system be able to do to reward that classroom teacher who is serving in the trenches every day?
Here are my concerns: How will a teacher be rewarded when two of her students arrive not speaking any English, one student is homeless and several are part of a program that sends food home on weekends because they will not be fed? Also, what will happen to the special education inclusion teacher, in the regular education classroom, who is responsible for the students who need monitoring? These students are capable; they have behavioral issues that require them to be closely monitored. This is in one of the fastest growing, developing, affluent counties in the Atlanta suburbs. Who will recognize their contributions?
There are no spreadsheets to show their level of sales, commissions or contracts won. How will they continue to work without going back to school or climbing the pay scale?
I look forward to reading the governor’s decision.
To be sure, Nathan Deal has not been a friend to teachers in his first term, where they have worked without a pay increase for the past five years. Did that ever happen to you in the corporate world?
I look forward to your articles.