Magazine article Techniques

You Get What You Pay For

Magazine article Techniques

You Get What You Pay For

Article excerpt

The teacher shortage sets the stage for salary increases.

North America is finally waking up to the fact that we can no longer afford to undervalue the work of teachers. Although many people go into education for altruistic reasons, leaving teaching to the kindhearted and expecting them to accept low salaries is the wrong strategy in the face of a teacher shortage. Not only do educators suffer, but the entire system suffers as well, because the direct consequence of low salaries is an undersupply of skilled individuals. As the teacher shortage becomes more serious, the result will be a decline in the quality of instruction, as those without teacher qualifications are placed in the classroom. This can only negatively affect students and society as a whole.

Although it is anticipated that the shortage will become most acute between 200S and 2010, some shortages are being felt already--most seriously in rural areas and in specialist subjects.

The problem is caused by several converging factors. Up to 40 percent of new teachers leave the profession within five years, often citing the lack of financial reward for their effort as a factor. In an economy in which salaries are climbing for many other educated workers, teaching is not seen as economically viable.

Of equal concern is the inadequate number of teachers graduating from faculties of education at colleges and universities. When many students look at the average salaries of other professions, they do not choose education as a career.

Add to this the number of teachers eligible for retirement in the next ten years, creating vacancies that cannot be filled, and the result is a teacher shortage--a shortage that could be ameliorated by offering salaries and bonuses which recruit and retain teachers.

In Massachusetts, where 50 percent of educators will be eligible to retire over the next ten years, recruiters are offering a $20,000 signing bonus and an extensive training program in an attempt to attract new teachers. Across the U.S., it is estimated that 2.2 million new teachers will be required during the next decade.

The gravity of this situation in and of itself will not be enough to secure salary increases, however. …

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