Something in the water…

There must be something in the water when I read Madville Times and find myself in agreement with its author on the idea of paying math and science teachers an $8,000 bonus over all other teachers simply because they teach math and science. I’m in complete disbelief and on this particular policy in agreement with Heidelberger. (minus the personal put down directed towards our Governor of course…)

Governor Daugaard ups the bonus for math and science teachers to $8000? but only gives those bonuses to new teachers in their first five years on the job.Now on the one hand, Governor Daugaard wants to give $5000 to the top 20% of teachers based on their proven performance. But he wants to hand an even greater amount to teachers before they have demonstrated they can really add value in the classroom.

Then, once the rookies learn the ropes, once they get even better at their jobs, once they anchor themselves in the community and show a willingness to make a long-term commitment, Governor Daugaard will say, ?Great! Gotcha! I?m cutting your pay $8000.?

So if I?m a new college graduate with a math or science degree, and I?m looking to pay off my $40,000 student debt, I could take Governor Daugaard up on his offer, knowing that in five years, my earning power is going to take a huge hit.

I really believe this is a misguided policy. Teachers of all subjects work hard. Last time I checked, it was important for children to be able to read, write, understand the world they are living in, be knowledgable about history and our culture. Math and science are great subjects, but this policy sends the worst message of the three major proposals. I have a really hard time putting a higher value on a teacher based simply on the subject they teach.

44 Replies to “Something in the water…”

  1. caheidelberger

    Personal put-down of the Governor? Where? I save my put-downs for Senator Olson… ;-P

    Now quit grousing about the fact that I’m right, call your legislators, and tell them to kill this bad bill… or at least raise hell to get this part of the plan axed and the funding directed toward a better plan that will benefit all teachers and students.

  2. Anonymous

    This could be considered a put down…

    “Governor Dennis Daugaard continues to demonstrate the absolute absence of principle or consistency in his education reforms.”

    I’ve called my reps and they were interested in hearing my opinion. I’m surprised Daugaard is needleing the teachers 2 years in a row.

  3. Cefil

    Nicely put, Bill. Couldn’t have said it better myself…but I tried: see my comments on Twitter, @cefil.

  4. insomniac

    Stop the presses! Cory Allen Heidelbergerwithfries is right about something?

    I can’t believe this. Now I have to rethink everything. Is the world still flat???

    Ok. I agree with Cory.

  5. Anonymous

    There is a very real shortage of math and science teachers. The bonuses are to encourage more potential teachers to get their degrees in those subjects. Unfortunately, here is an example of supply and demand, the supply of math and science teachers is very low because few people try to obtain those majors and the demand is great, thus the reason for the bonuses.

    At least Daugaard is trying to do something to get more science and math teachers. And don’t say that we should just pay all the teachers more. Back in 2009 the average K-12 teacher in SD made over $37,000 per year, more like nine months. That was more than 76% of all other workers here who worked 12 months. Adminstration, principals and superintendents, averaged over $77,000 which was more than 97% of all workers in SD.

    However, there are possible other solutions like those used to draw more doctors, nurses and dentists to SD. Pay so much to their college debt for every year that they teach in parts of SD that really have a hard time getting those teachers.

    1. insomniac

      I agree with the last paragraph of your statement but I don’t support the current plan and I’m a conservative.

      1. Arrowhead

        I am surprised Daugaard is pushing this legislation. I know if they brought this legislation in pieces I would support merit, and tenure but I would absolutely not support this math and science teacher garbage.

        There are going to be a lot more legislative seats in play ’12 if this passes and that is not good. Especially for bad legislation.

    2. delegate

      Every school district has shortages in something. Some it’s math other it’s special needs.

      I thought daugaard was in favor of local control? Why does the state need to decide what the shortages are instead of the local school district?

      I know many kids who did well in math and science but poorly in life because they don’t have the brain power to hold a conversation and are not broad thinkers.

    3. Anonymous

      I couldn’t have said it better. Teaches are moving to easier subjucts so why not offer a bit more to move them. Simple supply and demand. I completely disagree with bill on this one. Cory is just Cory. Doesn’t understand economics.

      1. BF

        Since 1066 A.D. the English language has been about 1/2 French. If one is interested in really understanding one’s own language (which, obviously most here are not) French and German are the languages to study. A little Spanish probably wouldn’t hurt either. That way, you’ll have both the past and the future covered linguistically speaking.

        1. BF

          Then round it all out by learning the languages of mathematics, chemestry, physics, logic and music.

          Throw in a little genetics and computer programming and you’ll be there. A real, well rounded human communicator.

          I’m guessing most who post here are pretty far behind in their lesson plans, actually.

    1. caheidelberger

      (If you’re serious, please direct that criticism to the elected school board and the administrators of the Spearfish School District. For my part, I’ll point out that foreign language education of any sport improves student understanding of grammar and composition in their own language. I boost ACT/SAT scores. That’s not my highest priority, but it belongs in the discussion.)

  6. Anonymous1

    I like Duggard’s plan. Not all of it but some of it. The main reason is that I think he is trying to stir the pot. Most of these teachers very seldom change lesson plans. In my opinion they get lackadaisical in their job. When this happens in education, as with any other job, you need to look at different appoarches to solving the problem. I think that is what Duggard is trying to do with this education problem.

      1. caheidelberger

        Because “tenure,” as most people understand it, already does not exist. Any school board in South Dakota can fire any under-performing teacher anytime they want.

  7. MC Post author

    There good teachers, and some not so good. There are teachers who can teach French and some that can teach math. and let’s be honest here, there some teachers who just don’t belong in the classroom.

    The key to this is local control. The needs and oppertunties at Tri-valley are different than that in Spearfish, which far different from Riggs in Pierre. Local school boards know what they need and what rescources they have. Maybe they can offer a new teacher an inexpensive home, or propane. or help them pay off their student loans.

    The final desision MUST be made at the local level.

  8. springer

    I agree with local control for the most part, but sometimes it gets political, “sportical,” if a teacher is a not so good teacher but a better than average coach and is considered a nice person. In our community this allowed a poor teacher to stay in place, and not just one BTW. Most boards aren’t going to get rid of a winning coach and face the wrath of the sports lovers.

    I have never liked the idea of merit pay because it has the potential for abuse, and I think this proposed plan also has the potential. I do agree with some of the arguments against this plan. But I get very upset when the education establishment goes ballistic over any proposed change and only wants higher wages with no accountability for same.

    I’m sorry, but I had no pay raise for many years. State workers, excluding teachers, have had no pay raise for three years. Teachers do not work the same hours as most other fulltime occupations in the state, and if comparing hourly wages and benefits, do quite well. Administrators are vastly overpaid, as are athletic directors etc. Maybe it’s time to direct pay raises to those who actually teach and decrease the salaries of administration. If the teachers don’t like this plan, then come up with one of their own that involves making wiser use of the funds available. More money does not equate with better student outcomes.

  9. Anonymous

    I do believe that math and science teachers do deserve a higher raise because of the academically tougher courses they had to master in order to teach and the harder courses they have to teach. It is very tempting for a person, even if they really want to teach, to forego this in order to earn a higher salary at other jobs with the same set of skills. But keeping high quality teachers in these areas is critical to improving the overall state of education in these areas to compete with other countries. However, said teachers then have to display a high quality of knowledge and be more than adequate teachers in these fields in order to merit the higher wage. In our community, one of the poorer teachers taught in this area but was never gotten rid of because he/she was a winning coach. Academics needs to be of utmost importance, period.

    1. caheidelberger

      Funny: I just had a student tell me today that he finds my French class more challenging than his math class. I told him different kids will find different classes differently challenging.

  10. troy jones

    Scenario: A company has machinists and welders. It pays both the same as the skills/training is approximately the same and both are critical to the company’s ability to manufacture its product. A shortage of welders develops.

    Option #1: Continue to pay both the same and experience the consequences of the shortage?

    Option #2: Increase welder pay to incentivize employees to get welding skills as well as stimulate more welding grads from tech school?

    Why is education any different? What is unique about teachers pshyche they can’t contemplate some teachers making more money while people in every other segment of the population deals with it every day.

    Heart surgeons make more money than eye surgeons even though the credentialing and education is the same. In fact, everywhere in society people are expected to do their job and cooperate/collaborate with people making more or less money than they do for the good of customers, owners, and employees. But for some reason teachers are unique?

    Everytime I hear “not in my backyard” arguments because “my situation is unique” at the root it is “I am special.” Well, teachers are no more special than anyone else in this society.

      1. delegate

        I’ve heard from many educators who say they do not have a shortage of math teachers. Why then would we want to pay math teachers more?

  11. Bill Fleming

    Troy, here are a few differences in your scenario judging from my understanding of this incentive. Tell me if I’m misunderstanding the State’s plan.

    1. If you’re going to start paying “welders” more, wouldn’t you pay them ALL more (provided they are doing a good job) not just the new hires?

    2. Would you just offer new hires $8k more for a couple of years and then dock their pay?

    Those are the specifics in the teacher incentive plan that seem odd to me, and quite different from usual labor/management classes.

    1. Troy Jones

      Bill,

      Not necessarily. If the objective is not to induce existing skilled machinists (e.g. English teachers) to change jobs but those still in school, this could make sense.

      1. BF

        Maybe, Troy. But if I’m already on staff as a “welder” (math teacher) for several years and the new guys start out making a whole bunch more than me… I’m probably looking for a new job somewhere else.

        SD’s not the only state looking for math teachers.

        Just sayin’.

  12. Ymous

    Bill
    I don’t see it. A French teacher has a diferent skill set then math. But if I need math teachers why would a raise everyone’s wage? That doesn’t solve my problem. It’s demand and supply with all due respect.

    1. toad

      I bet there are fewer french teachers in this state than Math teachers. Maybe Cory needs a raise?

      The student is the product and I don’t think we want kids to realize that the math teacher counts but everyone else is on a lower teer.

      That history teacher is only worth 33,000 a year while that math teacher is worth 41,000 he must be more important to my kids future.

      This is a bad plan.

      1. Anonymous

        What if the math teachers are bad? Why are we assuming they deserve an $8,000 bonus just because they teach math?

        Say this plan goes forward. What happens in 2 years when we have an abundance of math teachers?

        1. Ymous

          People, we don’t have enough math and science teachers. It’s called supply and demand economics. If you want the bonus money, teach those subjects. If you want double time pay on holidays, work the holiday. Same analogy. It’s not hard, really. Read some economics books, please. Your not saying anybody is worth less, we’re saying we need more of these types of teachers and were willing to pay for it. Wow! Maybe we need economic teachers more then math and science.

    2. BF

      Ymous, I’m not saying everybody’s, I’m saying the math teachers.

      As I understand it, only the new math teachers would get the bonus. (See above: “Governor Daugaard ups the bonus for math and science teachers to $8000? but only gives those bonuses to new teachers in their first five years on the job.”)

      Isn’t that an insult to the people who have been teaching math all along?

      Then further, these new teachers (who have yet to prove anything, other than that they teach math) will know they can expect to take a big pay cut in 5 years.

      Seriously?

      Would you take a job offer like that, ymous?

      1. Ymous

        We use those same bonuses for night shifts, weekend pay and holiday pay. It’s incentive pay to encourage behavior we need or want to go into a particular field or pay extra where it gives them a motive to take a schedule that is less desirable. It’s done in every career. Why do drs who specialize and further their education invest more time and money? Money is a motivator to encourage or discourage behavior. Any career in itself is built this way. I understand what your saying I just don’t think teachers need a special carve out from everybody else.

        1. BF

          Okay ymous, one more try.

          Let’s say you’ve worked for me making websites and I’ve been paying you $20 an hour.

          I decide I need more guys to make websites because of increased demand, so I hire a new guy for $30 an hour and leave your pay the same.

          I tell you to your face I’m going to do this, and that there’s not really any quality difference between the work the new guy does and what you do. In fact, your work might even be a little better.

          What do you do?

          If I were you, I’d quit.

          1. Les

            Not that I disagree with you on the issue Flem but, that’s not the way our economy has worked in the private or corp sectors…

            Your man with 20/hour and experience was canned and three youngsters brought in at 33% his wages each..try that in the school system if you want to hear Larry’s cat screech.

  13. Les

    BTW, my brother in law in the above example added three years to his education and is now very happy to have a job at 1/3 his former wages. Ex Seagate employee replaced by young Asians, he is now working for lower wages and no benefits.

  14. Les

    Pink is union? I’m not opposed to unions Flem, whatever gave you that thought?

    I think my brother in law was making too much money thus had no need to learn responsible spending. He is now learning.

    My point was private/corp enterprise versus,…………………

    I am opposed to union’s abusing the law to force membership.