Opinion

Top pay should go to the top teachers, not the administrators

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Adele Ferguson

My concerns revolve around your comments that somehow our schools are negatively impacted by the unions representative of our public school teachers, writes Dave Polda of Skagit County, no city given.
I think the primary role of the union is to provide legal counsel to an increasing number of accusations and lawsuits. Lord knows a teacher could not afford counsel every time an accusation surfaces, not on their salary.
The unions have also helped secure a safe work environment and created an atmosphere free of reprisal by the administration, school board and parents. Pay is important but I certainly dont think the majority of teachers are in it for the money.
They achieve a much higher reward, a sense of making a difference.
Its been many years since I last stepped into the classroom but I am a product of the states public schools and universities. I know from experience not all are created equal which is exactly what the WASL (Washington Assessment of Student Learning) tries to do. The teaching profession is under attack from many levels including lack of parental involvement, the threat of accusation and lawsuit, low pay, lack of support from their administration and now the expectation to meet some arbitrary goal set by non educators.
Your other comment concerns me deeply, tying teacher salaries to WASL performance. You would essentially punish those most needed in the worst of schools plagued by drugs, violence, poor facilities. lack of community involvement and high transient populations. It would be wrong to place blame on the teachers in a failing school as identified by this process. Maybe we can find a way of measuring personal achievement but I dont think the WASL can do that Teachers need to know they are appreciated and respected in the communities they serve.
Well, I dont think the majority of teachers are in it for the money either. Where money really matters though is something former Republican House Speaker Clyde Ballard told me the other day: A lady from my legislative district called me and said, I am really discouraged. Im a teacher. Im a good teacher. I go to work early and stay late. I work weekends. I take my job seriously. One of our other teachers is rarely ever in the classroom. Hes popping popcorn. The other teacher there just doesnt care. What discourages me is they get paid the same amount as the teachers who do care.
Blame the unions for that. They resist grading teachers because to them every teacher is a dues paying member regardless of worth. I have long advocated that the top money should go to the top teachers, not the administrators.
I read something in The Weekly Standard about the management of the media embedding process with U.S. service personnel in Iraq, which, amended, could be written about education here. Most military affairs officers (teachers) are professionals dedicated to their jobs, but it takes only a few well-placed incompetents to cripple our ability to match and trump Al Qaedas media arm, al Sahab (cripple Americas educational progress). By enabling incompetence, the Pentagon (education unions) has (have) allowed the problem to fester to the point of censorship (failure).
Remember what Bill Gates said in 2005? Our high schools are obsolete. We have one of the highest high school dropout rates in the industrialized world. We need a new design that realizes that all students can do rigorous work. If we keep the system as it is, millions of children will never get a chance to fulfill their promise because of their ZIP code, skin color or their parents income. Times a-wasting.

Adele Ferguson can be reached at P.O. Box 69, Hansville, WA, 98340.

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