OUR VIEW: Daugaard to teachers: Go and earn your raisesGov. Dennis Daugaard has it right. In essence, he is saying that exceptional teachers should get the pay they deserve, while poor and average teachers should be pushed harder to improve.
By: Editorial board, The Daily Republic
Gov. Dennis Daugaard has it right. In essence, he is saying that exceptional teachers should get the pay they deserve, while poor and average teachers should be pushed harder to improve.
It’s all part of a plan Daugaard is pushing to improve teacher quality and student performance while attracting better teachers to the state.
The governor spent time in Mitchell Monday touting the plan, which also would eliminate tenure for South Dakota teachers. The proposal calls for $3,500 bonuses to attract high-demand math and science teachers and $5,000 bonuses to reward each school district’s top teachers — the top 20 percent, to be exact. Also, he wants to see tenure — a longevity-based security blanket that further cements a teacher’s job — eliminated in South Dakota schools.
The math-science bonuses would begin in 2013-14 and cost the state approximately $5 million. The bonuses for the top 20 percent of teachers would begin in 2014-15 and cost about $10 million.
Well, there you have it, educators. After years of debate, a plan has surfaced to improve teacher pay. Embrace it.
Alas, we suspect it won’t be popular with teacher unions and the profession’s many lobbyists. The problem, we suspect, will be that teachers simply want raises for all but won’t be willing to chase the proverbial carrot to get them.
Daugaard is prepared for the debate.
Armed with statistics from the past few decades, he will tell opponents how the state has 49,000 fewer students than it did in 1971, but has meanwhile seen per-student funding more than double in that time. He will produce statistics that show South Dakota ACT scores have remained flat since 1985. He will explain how the tenure system — coupled with those flat test scores — rewards mediocrity.
For the record, we do not feel South Dakota teachers are underpaid. We feel South Dakota’s great teachers are underpaid and are being dragged down by teachers who simply expect raises and rewards for their longevity and additional certification.
Years and degrees do not a great teacher make.
Under Daugaard’s plan, great teachers will be rewarded, average teachers will keep their jobs and poor teachers will be urged to improve or pushed out the door. For the life of us, we can’t see why the education field should be different than any other profession, yet we suspect great opposition to Daugaard’s plan by people who will just demand raises for all teachers, good and bad.
This is basically what Daugaard is telling teachers: “Here are your raises. Good raises, too. Now go earn them.”
Certainly, the plan isn’t perfect. For example, awarding bonuses to the top 20 percent of teachers in all districts seems unfair to educators in very large school systems, but all plans have a few wrinkles that need ironing.
In the end, Daugaard’s plan finally takes a step in the direction of ending the maddening and tiresome debate over teacher pay, a controversy that for years has dominated South Dakota’s educational landscape.
We all know teachers who deserve more money for the wonderful things they are doing in our classrooms. Too, we all know teachers who don’t seem to be putting in an effort that truly justifies a nine-month salary of $30,000 to $50,000, with all weekends and holidays off. The former absolutely should get more money, but why should the latter?
Our current system is flawed, at the expense of students.
Those who deserve better — great teachers and all students — will benefit from the governor’s plan, and we hope it finds success during this legislative session.