Those of you who regularly read this blog are well aware of the many posts I’ve written opposing the “testing culture” that has invaded our schools.

I’ve included quotes and referenced articles that have, generally, exposed a single aspect of this issue —- be it from the students’ side, the parents’ side, or the teachers’ side.

However, with an article in THE AMERICAN SCHOLAR we have a more comprehensive analysis:  “School Reform Fails the Test:  How can our schools get better when we’ve made our teachers the problem and not the solution?” written by Mike Rose, a research professor at the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at UCLA and author of 12 books.

I will include only a single quote that appears near the end of the article:

“What if reform had begun with the assumption that at least some of the answers for improvement were in the public schools themselves, that significant unrealized capacity exists in the teaching force, that even poorly performing schools employ teachers who work to the point of exhaustion to benefit their students?  Imagine, then, what could happen if the astronomical amount of money and human resources that went into the past decade’s vast machinery of high-stakes testing-—from test development to the logistics of testing at each school site—if all that money had gone into a high-quality, widely distributed program of professional development.”

A recent MONEY Magazine article by Kaitlan Mulhere, “People Think Teachers Are Underpaid—Until You Tell Them How Much Teachers Earn” questioned the premise that teachers in America were as underpaid as people think.  Nevertheless, they concluded the article with this:

“Regardless of whether you think U.S. teachers are compensated fairly, it is true that their pay has declined across the board. On average, teacher salaries have slipped 1.3% since 2000, after adjusting for inflation, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. That average hides wide state-by-state discrepancies. Teacher salaries in Arizona, Indiana, and North Carolina have fallen at least 12%, for instance, while teachers in Massachusetts, North Dakota, and Wyoming have seen double-digit increases.

 And teachers are falling further behind other careers. Remember that 17% pay differential between teachers and other college-educated professionals? Twenty-five years ago, the gap was just 1.8%.”

 My own opinion renders the “teacher pay” issue somewhat immaterial when you start comparing teachers’ salaries to those of other professions.

Normally, when one discusses salary-by-profession, the discussion is always linked to a) the importance of the profession and b) the available workforce to feed that profession.

Can you imagine any more important role for the future of our country than the profession of teaching?  And, can you imagine a greater need than higher initial professional salaries in order to attract the best of our young people to that profession? 

Today, an entry level salary for teachers deters our brightest from choosing that profession over others in which entry level compensation pays much more.  And, with the monumental debt that college, too often, brings to our young people, is it any wonder that they gravitate to the the professions offering a higher entry level income?

As a nation, we need to understand the financial hurdles our current college graduates face. 

It is not factually correct to blame our state colleges and universities for the increased tuition costs year over year.

Previously, our taxes were used to cover the bulk of college tuition.  Investing in the nation’s future by educating its youth was a priority for most Americans. 

But, then, the legislators in their “my reelection” lust started whittling away, hoping that no one would notice, and that any rise in tuition costs could easily be blamed on the “greedy” colleges. 

Colleges had no choice.  But, the fault is not theirs.  It belongs to the state legislatures. 

“Years of cuts in state funding for public colleges and universities have driven up tuition and harmed students’ educational experiences by forcing faculty reductions, fewer course offerings, and campus closings.  These choices have made college less affordable and less accessible for students who need degrees to succeed in today’s economy.

 .  .  .  States cut funding deeply after the recession hit.  The average state is spending $1,598, or 18 percent, less per student than before the recession.”   (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)

With all of their focus on cutting taxes while, at the same time decreasing investment in our people, state legislatures (and, even the United States Congress) seem determined to leave the next generations with an awful mess. 

In addition, we must do a much better job of significantly increasing the entry level salaries that the public school teaching profession requires as a stimulus to get many of our “best and brightest” to enter the field of teaching.

People are looking at this whole “teacher pay” argument from the wrong point of view.  They are still comparing professional pay scales without taking into account the large number of debt-laden college students who are graduating today. 

That’s where we should be focused if we want to upgrade the teaching profession.  Attracting more effective K-12 teachers will be the best contribution we can make for our children and for the future of our country.

It is myopia to think that cutting taxes will always bring positive results.  American business knows that sound investments bring a far greater return.  Too bad our politicians choose pandering over investments in our future.

Happy Holidays to you all!  Shortly after the New Year I will be taking a short Winter vacation.  I’ll next post on Wednesday, January 17.

  — Bill Walton, co-Founder, ITC Learning

 December 20, 2017

  www.itclearning.com/blog/  https://itclearning.com/blog/(Mondays & Wednesdays)



 (This is a personal blog.  Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner, jhbillwalton@gmail.com, an independent consultant.  They do not represent those of people, institutions or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in a professional or personal capacity.)