Teachers Fight Changes To Salary - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Teachers Fight Changes To Salary

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by Aundrea Cline-Thomas

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -  Allen Nichols did not become a teacher 13 years ago for the money.

"I love teaching, it's great. I can't imagine doing anything else," he said.

However, money is on his mind after hearing the new proposals.

"I have lost sleep over this issue. It worries me, how am I going to make ends meet."

On Friday, the State Board of Education will consider changing the minimum salary requirements for teachers.

"It basically establishes a floor in which teachers are going to be paid over a course of time," Mitchell Johnson, Interim Director of the Tennessee Education Association (TEA) explained.

Under the proposal, salaries would only increase in the first, sixth and eleventh year on the job instead of every year. Teachers will no longer get as much money for those advanced degrees.

"Over the course of a career it will diminish the amount of money the teacher will receive based on that minimum state salary schedule," Johnson added.

The Tennessee Education Association estimates it's a $28,585 dollar loss over the course of a teacher's 20-year career if they have a Bachelor's degree, $35,590 for a Master's and hundreds of thousands of dollars for a Doctorate.

These changes were proposed after data showed advanced degrees and the number of years on the job don't necessarily make a teacher more effective.

"No teacher will be paid less -- they can only make more," Sara Heyburn, Assistant Commissioner of Teachers and Leaders with the Tennessee Department of Education said about how the proposal could impact current salaries.

Most districts already pay teachers much more than the state minimums to attract the best ones. This new plan is meant to give districts even more flexibility.

"Right now, you can be a teacher who is working as hard as possible, doing your darndest for kids and you get paid the same as a teacher who couldn't care less and is just putting in time," Hayden explained about how the changes would benefit teachers.

"There is no incentive for teachers to continue their education," Nichols said. "Get in the classroom and teach, but stop your learning."

The concern is that the proposal puts districts one step closer to paying teachers based on their test scores. It's a step away from the little bit of assurance the profession had left, one teachers say they're ready to fight for.

"No I'm not surprised," Nichols said when considering the changes made over the last three years. "Does that mean I'm not scared? No because I'm definitely frightened for my own pocketbook and for education itself."

The State Board of Education will consider the salary proposal during its meeting this Friday.

If passed, it will go into effect during the 2013-2014 school year. On Thursday, House Democrats will weigh in on the measure during a press conference scheduled for 11:00 a.m. in Legislative Plaza.

Email: acline-thomas@newschannel5.com
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