Throughout our education we have all encountered teachers that have inspired us to learn and those who have made the learning experience seem never ending. A great teacher can be remembered for a lifetime. They can impact the choices that we make to further our education or encourage a desire in us toward a future career. We remember these teachers and often hope that we will encounter more teachers like them along our educational journey.
The discussion of teacher tenure and salary has been in news headlines for the past decade. It has stimulated several political debates, but the question remains: Is this an efficient way to retain effective teachers in an education system that some might say is failing our children?
Teacher tenure is said to be a form of job security for teachers that have sustained a probationary period. This period, of about two to four years, is where the teacher is scrutinized on their job performance. They must prove to be competent and skillful in their teaching abilities. After this period is complete a teacher can feel secure in their position as an educator for many years to come.
The security that is generated in tenure also creates a sense of protection for a set salary. The current system for teacher’s salary has been in place for nearly a century. In 1921, the position-automatic or single salary schedule for teachers was introduced. In this system, the teacher's salary was constructed on two valued areas: degree held and years of teaching experience. This system was endorsed by the National Education Association in 1944. In as few as six years (1950) 97% of all schools had adopted the single salary schedule. By the 1999-00 school year, nearly 100% of teachers were paid according to the single salary schedule. (Springer, Gardner)
Think back to those teachers we wish we could forget…they were earning the same salary if not more than, depending on the years of experience or degree, as the teacher that we learned more effectively from. So is that acceptable? Studies show that an effective teacher can create a learning environment that is far more reaching in a student’s educational career than one that is not. Suzanne Wilson writes,
“We know that almost all U.S. children, no matter where they live, will be academically endangered if they have poor teachers for three years in a row. We also know that low-income elementary students who have good teachers three years in a row will have test scores that are more like those of their middle-class peers. And we know that the scale of the "problem" of creating a high-quality teaching workforce is astonishing: There are nearly 4.5 million teachers in the U.S.” (Wilson) A 1996 study by William Sanders supports Wilsons claim that there is a three year increase or decrease in student performance. The study by Sanders reported a difference of 50 percentile points in student achievement between students who encountered three consecutive years of teachers at or above the...