Do Schools Really Want To Fix The Teacher Retention Problem?
Like nearly half of all teachers, I did not last five years in the classroom. After four years, I went to graduate school. Many factors prompted me to leave the classroom; my salary was one factor. Most teachers are paid on a single salary schedule. These salary schedules aren’t inherently bad. They can be designed well or poorly. Unfortunately, most school districts do a poor job and design their salary schedules in a way that sacrifices young teachers at the expense of veteran teachers.
Take, for example, the salary schedule for a teacher with a master’s degree in the Parkway School District. In his or her first 10 years, a teacher in Parkway only receives a 17 percent pay raise. Between their 11th and 20th years, they receive a 51 percent pay raise. The difference is $20,000. It is no wonder we have difficulty retaining new teachers. The system is designed by veteran teachers for veteran teachers. After all, veteran teachers are usually the ones who serve on salary bargaining committees.
If we are serious about retaining new teachers, why do we design our pay schedules so poorly?