by David Safier

Tasl_sm(TASL) Here is a taste of things to come. If there’s no money to increase teacher salaries, abandon the current salary schedule with its built-in yearly raises and only give raises to those who jump through the proper hoops.

The Kyrene Elementary School District, south of Phoenix (or in the south part of Phoenix, I can’t tell from the map), wants to give itself “more flexibility in giving – or not giving – educators raises.” That means, teachers will begin with a base salary, then their salary will rise through a series of “add-ons” such as “earning National Board Certification, running after-school clubs or participating in pay-for-performance plans. They can earn additional money for continuing education, too.” If they just teach, their salaries stagnate.

The stated goal of this plan is to spend less money on teacher salaries overall than the district would pay under the current salary schedule.

If a starting teacher’s salary were enough for someone with a family to, say, pay for rent, food and an occasional night out, this wouldn’t be so mean-spirited. But starting salaries are awful. They don’t approach the level of reasonable compensation for a teacher’s time. To say we’ll raise one teacher’s salary to a less insulting level by denying a raise to someone else . . . I lack words to describe this attitude.

Here is another way of thinking about the deplorable salaries we pay teachers. When we tell teachers, “We would like to pay you what you deserve, but we refuse to tax ourselves to do it,” we are passing the tax burden on to the teachers. In essence, every teacher is being taxed an extra $5,000 to $10,000 a year to cover the educational costs we refuse to shoulder.