Teachers oppose new pay system
September 16, 2013 11:56 PM | 5164 views | 30 30 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
By Lindsay Field

lfield@mdjonline.com

MARIETTA — Four Ford Elementary School teachers who attended a Monday meeting about the Cobb School District potentially shifting to a performance-based pay system said they and their colleagues oppose such a change.

Board Chairman Randy Scamihorn and members David Morgan and Tim Stultz met Monday night in front of a crowd of about 20 people to discuss an alternative way to pay educators that could be based on student performance and teacher evaluations rather than experience or degrees.

The subcommittee was formed in May at the request of Morgan to examine the topic.

“If there is a better way to pay teachers more, then let’s do it,” Morgan said. “It’s not a witch-hunt. … I do believe there’s a better way to do it than we’re doing it right now, especially for the teachers in Cobb County.”

The current pay scale is based on experience, certification and degree level of teachers. Almost 90 percent, or $770.9 million of the fiscal 2014 budget, goes to salary and benefits for teachers.

The average Cobb public school teacher makes $75,000 annually, including benefits, and an average of $56,000, without benefits, said Brad Johnson, the district’s chief financial officer.

The subcommittee on Monday night spent most of their meeting in a teleconference with James Wyckoff, director of the Center on Education Policy and Workforce Competitiveness at the University of Virginia, talking about various pay systems.

Afterward, Scamihorn, Stultz and Morgan participated in a 15-minute question and answer session with the audience, including four Ford Elementary School teachers who submitted a list of 10 questions to the board members and asked that they respond to them by email.

The Acworth-based school teachers said they are worried that the new pay system could be approved without their input.

“As veteran teachers, we are opposed to it because we have been getting paid for our number of years and our degrees and we are just unsure how that’s going to balance out,” said one teacher who declined to give her name.

The group also pointed out that in a public school system like Cobb teachers have high and low performing students in their classes so basing teacher performance on test scores would be unjust. Another teacher, who also declined to give her name, said Cobb needs to take its time if it does decide to implement the new system.

“Cobb County seems to jump into new things quickly a lot and there have been a lot of changes the last five to 10 years,” she said. “We don’t stick with the curriculum, we don’t stick with a calendar.”

Cobb, like every other school district in Georgia, began implementing Common Core Standards last school year in math classes. Two years ago, the school board also changed the calendar a few months prior to the start of the 2011-12 school year, upsetting many parents and teachers.

“With all the changes they seem to just jump into it before it’s researched and thoroughly thought through,” she said.

Morgan, Scamihorn and Stultz said there is no timeline to implementing the new salary system and that their monthly meetings will continue to be “fact-finding” sessions. The next meeting has not been scheduled.

“It would be unrealistic to pre-diagnosticate when we would implement this,” Morgan said.

Comments
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IDIOTS2
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September 26, 2013
You all are idiots!!! Teachers oppose this type of payment because so many other factors come into play that creates a students learning: poverty, gangs, language acquisition, apathy on the part of students, insubordination on the part of students, lack of parental support, lack of parents visibility....can I go on? Yes. Why don't some of you get into a classroom for one day as a substitute and teach physics or Algebra or any subject? Impossible. You would not last a day. Walk in my shoes for a half of day and them tell me that those that were lazy went into education. By the way, I was up at 3:30 am grading papers!!! IDIOTS!!! What were you doing at 3:30?
Goldman Sachs POV
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October 02, 2013
Once again, more excuses (poverty, gangs, language acquisition, apathy, insubordination, etc). Yeah, some might be true, but how does that justify your pay being higher?

Guess what, I have been in my own inner-city high school classroom before. I presented to highschool 10th and 11th graders on investment banking/equity trading. All of the students were engaged even though hardly any had any idea what I did at the beginning. Some were hispanic, some black, a couple white, doesn't matter. They wanted to learn. You have to be relatable to them. Apathy can be fixed my motivation..show them career outlets that utilize what you are teaching, etc, etc. Be creative!

Like I said, don't care to walk in your shoes. I chose to get into a career that is challenging. Why didn't you use your physics/algebra background to become a scientist or like I have said, quantitative risk manager/actuary. You chose education because it's EASY! Your mindset was probably "I love dealing with kids!" Well now you realize you made that mistake and don't love it and now want to be paid 6 figures. 6 figures even though you said it yourself you can barely teach due to apathy. Guess what, if you were a good teacher, there wouldn't be apathy.

330? I was asleep. As an analyst I worked 5am-11pm 5-6 days a week. Now as a managing director I work a little more than half that. It's not my fault you can't use your red pen fast enough checking off apathetic answers and are up at 3:30. Either you're giving too much work and have too much to grade or you're just a very slow worker---which is a good reason to stick in a cushy field like education.
Pro Middle Class
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September 24, 2013
This will not make the comment section, but MDJ you better man up! I know your pocket is lined by Cobb Government and Craig's List is killing your income, but once you give up your ideology you are no longer free press, you are bought press. Also, do something about these stupid letters at the bottom, half the time you can't tell what the heck they are.
Goldman Sachs POV
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September 20, 2013
Teachers getting paid even $56k benefits included is fair. Back 10 years ago or so I was getting my degree, ALL of the lazy people majored in...wait for it...education! It's a cushion job where you don't have to perform in order to keep your job. Blame it on the kids, the parents, the school system, whatever. Easy outs everywhere.

I won't even delve into elementary and middle school teachers..what a joke. You don't even need a degree. Hell, most private school teachers in those grade levels don't have degrees in education or wherever and their students perform at a higher level.

As far as high school teachers, what a joke as well. You majored in math only to go into teaching knowing you would make $40-50k the rest of your life..and then complain about it? How about you get up off your ass and get yourself into a field like actuarial science or quantitative risk management and put those skills to the test? Can't handle it? Boo-hoo. You don't deserve to make the $75k with benefits for teaching a class of 35 about x 2=16. If you work 9.5hrs a day like someone said that is your fault. I can analyze and evaluate the risk of investing in 500 companies in a day. You can't make a couple of worksheets in your hour and a half planning?

Face it, you contribute nothing. A computer program would teach kids more than half the teachers in Cobb. You chose education because it was easy..sorry it doesn't pay six figures.
DJSM
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September 18, 2013
I feel that ability levels of students play a large part in their growth each year.Classrooms are not all equal at the "starting gate".Even saying that it doesn't matter where they start as long as they develope and grow by a year's worth of knowledge doesn't make sense, I'll explain why.

This year, as I have many other years, I have a class made up of many special ed. students, ESOL students and EIP students. Several of my 3rd graders came to me reading on a 1st grade level. These children will grow and become better readers.I am a proficient teacher who always guides students to grow and succeed.BUT, if after 3 years in school my students are reading 1st grade level books (one years growth) it is doubtful I'll be able to perform miracles and have them advance by 10-12 months. If I have several students who fall under this category and my scores are not as stellar as a team mates who class list is made up of general ed. or advanced studnts,does that justify her/him getting more pay than me? Will teachers willingly continue to teach lower functioning students if their salary is based on the students growth? We are dealing with human children who are not constructed like cars, or cogs with slot A fitting in slot B. Each is unique and differnt and needs to be allowed to develope as an individual.
Why of course...
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September 17, 2013
they oppose it. Why would they want to be held to the same standard as most other workers in the country?
anonymous
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September 19, 2013
Because our end product is not a financial or production goal, it's a capable adult. What other workers in the country produce that? You want us to meet your children where they are and take them as far as they can go-it's called differentiation. We are just asking to be evaluated with the same respect.
Not same work
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September 20, 2013
We don't produce something and have no control over several factors. I can't make a child do their homework or study for a test. I work much harder than you will ever think about and still have no control over what my students choose to do. I challenge you to spend a week in a Title I school and then you can talk trash!
Just a Thought
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September 17, 2013
What if the outstanding teachers leave the traditional low performing schools for better paying positions at schools that traditionally perform better? One might think that the value a parent places on education could impact student performance. I know we are turning into an entitlement society but we would be silly to think every student has the same educational foundation if that foundation is still viewed as "the family."
anonymous
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September 17, 2013
I remember a few years back they tried a merit plan for central office staff and everyone got the bonus. Merit plans are made to reward the top 5-10% and get rid of the true underperformers. I can see this going the oppostie way and every one will be at the top in a year!
anonymous
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September 17, 2013
What a poorly written article. Stick to the pay issue and stop bringing in calendars and other stuff. Tell us what was really discussed instead of telling us what has caused ire in the past. Change is not always bad.
Jeff A. Taylor
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September 17, 2013
Why are teachers afraid to give their names? This is a public policy issue and you lose credibility by remaining anonymous.

Then again, we know that the Cobb board will do anything noisy teachers tell them to do, as evidenced by the insanely early school calendar and the nuking of cheaper online teachers.

Besides, "performance pay" is just the latest edu-fad without form or substance. Unless you are willing to blow up any and credentialing barriers to hiring STEM experts, nothing much changes. Every principal in Cobb hides weak teachers because the culture accepts it. Don't change the pay metrics, change the culture. Demand excellence across the board.
Come again??
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September 17, 2013
We hear in the news all the time about how porrly teachers are paid.

Then I read this article and find out that the average Cobb County teacher makes $56,000 a year??!!

That is a very comfortable living. They have nothing to complain about.
Not the average
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September 20, 2013
The MDJ has refused to post any of my responses regarding this issue. The average includes administrators salaries. A new teacher in CCSD makes $ 36,000 and a teacher making $ 56,000 has been working for 24 years. You can look at teacher salaries on the CCSD site and see for yourself that this is very deceiving.
phat tony
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September 17, 2013
wow- what a concept! pay teachers for actually doing a good job??? No wonder the teachers are against it! Too many of them just show up, have no enthusiasm, and couldn't care less about how their students are learning. They are happy just to do enough not to get fired. It is true though, that a lot of students don't care themselves, and neither do their parents, who are partly to blame. Some kids do need to be "left behind" for the better of the whole class. Private schools are the way to go if you can afford it.
Whydon'tyoutryit
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September 19, 2013
So everything a student does or doesn't do is a result of their teacher. Why not give the awrds to the teachers? No more honors days for students after all they have "A" because odf the teacher right? Just like they have an "F" because of the teacher. No comending the parent for raising their child right because after all it was the teacher that made the difference. Why not just let the teachers raise them for the 10 months of the school year.
anonymous
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September 17, 2013
Recognize that teachers actually work 6 months out of the year. Then convince me showhow they should be paid more based on the quotes, "The average Cobb public school teacher makes $75,000 annually, including benefits and an average of $56,000, without benefits." So-with the teachers' schedules compared to any other job, they are being paid equivalent to $112,000 without benefits, which is what they would make if they got $56,000 for 12 full months of work without benefits. They are making $150,000 including benefits, which is what they would make if they got $75,000 for 12 full months of work with benefits. And I saw somewhere they are asking for MORE time off-at least 2 more weeks. Please pass me the lemonade, sista', I think I might faint dea'r.
Hildymac
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September 17, 2013
Oh, sorry. I didn't realize that teachers only worked for one semester. I wonder what the students do for the rest of the Spring semester - sit in holding cells?

Also, I'm sure that many teachers' concerns aren't regarding wanting more pay (and you know as well as I do that's an excuse used by the school board to make this thing palatable), it's about maintaining the pay that they have or at the very least not basing pay on disparate, non-comparable data. If a teacher is an honors teacher, her scores will be higher than an on-level teacher probably regardless of teacher quality. How is that an intelligent way to pay?

It will discourage the teachers of the on-level students, which like it or not make up a majority of the students in the district. This can't be something the parents want.
maylib
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September 19, 2013
spoken like someone who isnt a teacher and doesn't know one.

take the advice of a teacher - educate yourself before writing stuff like this (this goes for all those in agreement with the statement on how little teachers work)

Teachers work more hours in a day than just about anyone. They have more requirements (unfunded) to be educated. They are required to keep up with education as a skill on their own time (again, unfunded), they spend their own money on supplies for the kids, and in their "off time" during breaks and summer they are typically working on all that (again, non-reimbursed) education they need to simply get ahead or keep their current job.

When you go home from work, realize, that teacher is home too - grading papers, working on lesson plans, and doing all the things needed to be ready for the next day (which typically starts around 6am arrival) which creates more of the same.

not to mention - we let teachers spend more time in a day with our kids than we do!! and you want to pay them less??? You think 56k is grandiose??

good grief!!
@ anonymous
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September 18, 2013
Check your math...

GA public school teachers are issued 190 day contracts and they are paid for days worked (i.e. 190 days or 52.1% of a calendar year); not holidays, or furlough days, or summer/winter/spring vacations.

A private employee having weekends off, federal holidays off and two weeks of paid vacation works on average 240 days each year or 65.8% of a calendar year.

So, a teacher works approximately 13% less days than the private employee.

You remember your ratio lessons?

These are rough equivalents:

$75,000 for 190 days (teacher) and $95,000 for 240 days (private). That is 21% less pay including benefits for teachers when compared to a private employee.

So, 13% fewer days yet 21% less pay for teachers when compared to the private employee.
I quit!
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September 17, 2013
6 months? You really believe that teachers only work 6 months?
a cobb teacher
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September 17, 2013
Dear anonymous,

If you think I only work 6 months you are sorely mistaken! Many of us work during summer months planning. Have you forgotten that we have no math books to teach the common core? I can't tell you how many hours I've spent making games and coming up with lessons and worksheets, and study guides for parents who don't understand. Do you know how long my average day is? It's about 9.5 hours. Then when I plan for the following weeks it's more like 12. I welcome you to come and teach my 28 children. You wouldn't last an hour. Can't drink any of yor lemonade dear because I only have time to use the bathroom two times during the school day,
anonymous
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September 17, 2013
Teachers have a 190 day contract. there are approximately 260 working days in a year. So your math is completely incorrect. Furthermore, if it was only about money and time, jump right in and do the job yourself. Teachers like any other professional are paid for the training, education and skills they have received and not just for showing up everyday.
You need school
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September 17, 2013
Teachers work 190 days, no more, no less unless furloughed. They don't get paid for furlough days, so that leaves teachers only getting paid for 185 days. They do not get paid for days they do not work which would be all the vacation days you are taking about. You need to check out the teacher salaries online because teachers do not make

$ 56,000 per year until their 21st year. Stop speaking because you do not know what you are talking about!
School Year?
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September 17, 2013
Who has a 6 month school year?
To Anonymous
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September 17, 2013
Apparently you are very clueless and really should not embarrass yourself anymore. Teachers work 190 days....period. NO matter what you do with the calendar, we work 190 days. We DO NOT get paid for days we are not at school working. Of course, we are at school working many days aside from those 190 but do not get paid for those days. A starting salary for a teacher is $ 36,000 per year. Teachers who have been working 22 years are making $ 56,000 with out benefits. Yes, I said 22 years honey. You can review the salary schedule yourself on the CCSD website. The average teacher salary the newspaper prints averages in administrators salaries. You see ANONYMOUS- we don't get paid vacations,do not go out to lunch with our buddies, can't choose when we go on vacation, and do not receive raises like the business world. We teach because we love children and it is truly a calling. I challenge you to spend a week of your vacation time in a Title I school and then you can rant, rave and spew ridiculousness out of your mouth. Please don't comment on things you know nothing about.
Teacherh1122
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September 17, 2013
You must not understand education whatsoever. We are actually teaching 10 months out of the year. I have over $2000 out of pocket expenses for my classroom so that I can do innovative, engaging learning activities and there is no money. Our pay is for 7:30 - 3:00. Find a teacher that doesn't work past that time and sometimes until 6:00, especially during conference week, PTO meetings and other things that are deemed critical. Please walk a mile in a teachers shoes before you get on your soapbox. I bet you run off screaming. Regarding the performance pay. Unless, each teacher has the same classroom, same achieving students, same resources, etc., it's like comparing apples and oranges. When you compete in the business world, you have the same parameters. In teaching, it is difficult to have the same parameters because you are basing it on imperfection. There is a cartoon out about this very same thing. A man has a line of animals: an elephant, money, fish in a bowl, seal and wolf. Then he states, to be fair, everyone will have the same exam. The exam will be to climb a tree. Those who make it to the top will be considered successful. Go. Now, use some analysis and compare that to merit pay for teachers. Not sure what the answer is but not sure merit pay is a fair system. All teachers will be clamoring for the elite schools and then where does that leave our Title I schools.
Not true
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September 17, 2013
I don't know where they got these figures because I have a Master's degree, been teaching in Cobb for 8 years, and I barely make $50K before taxes. We pay for our benefits out of our paychecks (retirement, Social Security, and health insurance). Most of us don't want more time off because the time off is NOT PAID FOR!!! All the little "vacays" this year are due to furlough days and furloughs = paycuts.

Some of you really seem to have this disillusioned view of teachers as not working hard. I am here for almost 10 hours a day and still have work to take home with me because I want to do the best for these kids....many teachers stay here even longer than that.

Being in one of the worst "ghetto" schools in the county I would hate to have merit based pay...how can we be effective with poor attendance, lack of parental involvement, kids coming in with inadequate skills from middle school, constant excuses as to why they didn't do their work, language barrier issues, a lot of us don't even have textbooks for our kids, etc...And god forbid admin do their jobs to curb discipline since the kids run this school.
Wellifitsoeasy
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September 19, 2013
Yes teachers may only work a 190 day contract they have to pay bills 365 days.
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