Tuesday, June 4, 2024

What's the Goldilocks Spot?

 What’s the Goldilocks Spot


Teachers are not paid nearly enough!  Teachers are paid way too much for the 190 days a year they work when the rest of us work a lot longer.   The average American works 260 days.  Teachers get great benefits.  They are very seldom fired.  They work a 6 ½ hour day and regularly have to take work home.  They get at least one free period during the school day to do lesson planning.  Some teachers get more than that.  They also receive fund to earn an advanced degree which will further increase their salaries.

The average teacher’s salary in Washington DC is $84,882.  It is among the top five in the country.   In Maryland, the average salary isn’t that far behind at $79,420.  In Montgomery County Maryland adjacent to Washington DC the average salary is $83,266.  Yet there are vacancies in all of these jurisdictions.  Maryland has a plan to start all beginning teachers at $60,000.  The idea is that this will attract more teachers and help to fill the vacancies that exist all year long.  People will tell you teachers are burned out.  They just have too much to do.  The question is, will more money make them less burned out?  Or are there other issues at play that we need to face.

Money doesn’t seem to be doing its job of attracting teachers.   But politicians have never been known to look at the data, so their answer to vacancies is to increase salaries. 

Part of the problem is there is a finite amount of money available to school systems.    So, if school districts are required to increase salaries, they only have a couple of options if they can’t get more money from county government.  They can decrease the number of teachers or they can reduce spending in other areas.  When they reduce the number of teachers, that means more students in each class or a reduction in course offerings.  Two school districts in Maryland have already canceled all virtual learning because of budget issues.  

Ideally school systems could engage unions in this discussion.  Sadly, unions only seem to be interested in increasing salaries not serving the needs of the students.

What is the Goldilocks sweet spot?   How much salary is not too hot and how much is not too cool.  When are we paying teachers an appropriate respectful amount representative of the importance of their jobs and when are we paying them too much so that it is impacting the rest of the system.   Where is Goldilocks when we need her?

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