Clear Fog Blog

Political musings from Warren E. Peterson

Washington State Teacher Pay

Posted by Warren Peterson on December 20, 2007

One of the qualifiers for higher pay per the Washington State teacher salary schedule is additional college credit hours beyond a bachelor degree and/or a graduate degree(s). I know a third grade teacher with a PhD. Is a doctor’s degree really necessary for elementary school? No, but it does increase pay, but at what cost?

First, the teacher has to pay the tuition and dedicate the years to gain the salary driven additional education. Second, the state’s taxpayers have to pay for higher education institutions to provide the courses, professors, buildings and maintenance to serve the approximately 55,000 public school teachers in the state.

If the state provided money for teacher training appropriate for the job (ranging from summer workshops to graduate degrees for science teachers), we could improve teacher pay by saving them the cost of graduate school. By eliminating the fixed link between additional college credits and salary, perhaps we would open enough student slots at our existing four year schools to not need the hugely expensive proposed Everett branch of the University of Washington.

For more on teacher pay reform, see the Op Ed in the Seattle Times, “Reform the way we pay teachers”. It dares to challenge the education union’s time in grade/level of education approach to teacher salaries and is worth reading.

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