Pay Raises Could Lessen for New Teachers Under State Plan

(Memphis) Critics of the state’s new pay plan claim it eliminates incentives for teachers to get advanced degrees.

Right now, the more degrees you have, the more you earn.

The state wants to change that.

Memphis Education Association President Keith Williams says the state is limiting the number of pay raises so it can shift money to charter schools run by private groups.

“If we are going to take away from salary schedules and teacher benefits and from the children and from public funds and give them to private entities to do the same thing we are wholeheartedly mistaking,” said Williams.

The proposed plan ups the minimum pay across the board for all teachers, but it caps the limit of raises to four and doesn’t reward teachers for earning more than a master’s degree.

Simply put, a PhD holder with ten years of experience would make the same as a teacher who only earned a master’s degree.

Both would make more than a teacher with just a bachelor’s degree, so there is at least some incentive still.

There’s some good news for local parents and teachers.

Districts aren’t required to pay the state minimum, and Memphis and Shelby County schools already pay a lot more.

Williams warns that could change.

“One thing state law does is they can never lower teacher salaries in this district or the state, but they could flatten them and never raise them again,” said Williams.

Williams says this mostly impacts smaller school districts in the state because they have to stick to the minimum requirements because of funding issues.

Williams says right now teachers in Shelby County are paid for their advanced degrees, but starting in 2014 that will not be the case for incoming teachers.

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