State Board Vote Impacts Teacher Salaries - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

State Board Vote Impacts Teacher Salaries

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by Aundrea Cline-Thomas

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - More than a hundred teachers attended the State Board of Education meeting wearing red in solidarity in an effort to fight against changes that will impact their salaries.

"I am so confused and I came to hear it for myself from the board," Metro School teacher Carrol Trusty said.

"Many of us already qualify for government assistance on our teacher's salary," Robertson County teacher Nicki Fields said.

"The interest of the state board is getting teacher's salaries to where they are competitive with other states," Board Chairman Felding Rolston said, "and also with other professions."

To do that, Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman said the state has to do more than take into account years on the job and additional degrees when paying teachers.

"So if you are a physical education teacher that performs at a low level you're compensated the same as a physics teacher that performs at a high level," Huffman said about the flaws with the current system.

That's why the State Board of Education voted to alter the minimum teacher salary requirements. Raises will be required during the first, sixth and 11th year of employment and less money will be awarded for advanced degrees. This after national and state data found advanced degrees don't necessarily co-relate with effectiveness.

Instead, the board is giving districts more flexibility to provide bonuses to teachers who do everything from teach to staff schools; to those who perform well on their evaluations.

"I don't teach math or science. I won't be eligible for those bonuses," Fields said.

By law, teachers can not earn less from year to year. But teachers said the plan will threaten their earning potential over the course of their career.

"If there is more money in the pie for teacher salary and the same amount of teachers," Huffman explained, "then on average the compensation for teachers must go up."

"It's not available to all teachers," Trusty said about how the extra money will be allocated. "It's not equitably distributed."

It's a fundamental difference of opinion state leaders said will raise the standards of the profession. However, teachers said it will remove the desire to make teaching a life-long career.

The Department of Education will help districts come up with a pay structure for teachers. Those plans will be completely implemented by the 2014 - 2015 school year.

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