The governor in his State of the State address last week proposed rewarding our highest-performing teachers with six-figure salaries.
He pointed out that our current system keeps some of the state’s best teachers out of the classroom because they can make more money as an administrator. But what they are really called to do is teach.
We’ve also lost a lot of teachers to the private sector. And we’re having trouble recruiting enough young people into the teacher pipeline to fill future classrooms with high quality teachers.
“Oklahoma students can’t be the best without the best teachers,” the governor said.
That’s a true statement. Aside from an involved parent, a teacher has the greatest impact on student learning and a student’s academic success. If we want students that become knowledge, thoughtful, engaged citizens and hard workers, then we have to invest in those who help them become those kinds of adults.
That’s why the governor said he is proposing matching funds so that our best teachers can make six figure salaries and stay in the classroom. He did not specify, however, where these matching funds would come from.
I’m in favor of paying our best-performing teachers more money, but there are several things that will need to be ironed out before we could see this in legislation. First, would be the metrics that determine a teacher’s performance. We have a Teacher and Leader Effectiveness Evaluation tool already in state law, but too many teachers currently are rated average by their administrators. One way to gauge a teacher’s performance is by assessing how their students perform on standardized testing, but there are a lot of factors that can upset those results. That’s been a hot button issue for education and the Legislature for years.
A second issue is where the funding would come from. We’re already giving education record amounts of state appropriated dollars. How to increase that in a way that would pay more of our teachers up to $100,000 a year would be a stretch for most taxpayers.
I’m excited about the governor’s proposal, but other lawmakers and I would need to see a more detailed plan before we could draft and back legislation to make this happen.
Having great teachers is important but not nearly as important as having involved parents. As a former Parent-Teacher Association president I found that the vast majority of under performing students had parents who didn’t care, weren’t around and/or couldn’t be bothered to get involved. That’s even the case with single parent families. Parents for whom son/daughter success is a priority generally find ways to monitor and influence the kids’ progress.