A bill introduced by Sen. Gloria Romero would make it easier for school districts to reward their experimentally and numerically inclined teachers.
State law now requires districts to compensate teachers according to a uniform salary schedule, with pay increases based on years of service and continuing education. (That is, unless the union and the district negotiate other criteria for the salary schedule in the collective bargaining agreement.)
This law would allow districts — with the approval of their respective employee unions — to funnel some general fund money into the paychecks of science and math teachers in schools with the lowest state API rankings (1, 2 or 3).
Proponents say the extra compensation could help offset a shortage in math and science teachers, which is expected to reach 33,000 in the next 10 years, according to a study cited in the bill.
Mathematics and science classrooms, particularly in
low-performing schools, are increasingly being staffed by
educators who are underprepared to teach the academic content
in the state’s rigorous content standards and to prepare pupils to
receive a high-quality mathematics and science education so that
they can participate in the state’s science, technology, engineering,
and mathematics workforce.
Interestingly enough, the bill doesn’t include special education teachers, which I understand are also in short supply. Also, there will be much less money for such incentives if districts receive some $4 billion less than expected from the state in 2008-09.
And, of course, the provision wouldn’t take effect in a district unless its teacher’s union agrees to it. (In the past, the Oakland Education Association has taken a strong stance against differential pay. Last year, its executive board refused to endorse a grant application for more than $18 million in cash bonuses because the money would be distributed to some teachers and schools, but not all.)
Do you think higher pay is key to hiring and keeping more top-notch science and math teachers at low-performing schools? Does it make sense to focus on certain academic areas perceived to be in the greatest need, or should all teachers be paid according to the same criteria?
image from 161’s Web site at flickr.com/creativecommons