Monday, August 10, 2015

Increase Teacher Pay Won't Solve Shortages, But It Is a Vital Place to Start

There is no question that South Dakota is facing a serious teaching shortage.  This was pointed out in a KELOLAND report showing that Sioux Falls, one of the highest paying districts in the state, is having more and more problems getting highly qualified applicants:
It's not much different in the Sioux Falls School District where there are currently 14 open positions - double from this same time last year. 
"We had a math teacher position at one of our high schools where we had two applicants," Sioux Falls School District Human Resources Supervisor Becky Dorman said. "We have a science position open at a high school, and that's probably going to be about the same. We've had special ed. teaching positions open for awhile where we had no applicants." (Aug. 7, 2015)
One of the key issues behind the shortage is the lack of pay for the profession.  This is one of the key areas of focus for the Governor's Blue Ribbon Panel.  

For some it appears that they think that increased pay will solve the issue and using logic of a fourth grader, if other states that pay more are also seeing shortages, then we should not worry about compensation.

Cory Heidelberger shares a back and forth with Representative Lana Greenfield who raises the idea of shortages in other places hinting that compensation is the least of the causes.  Pat Powers seems to feed this thinking when he points to a New York Times article about nationwide issues with teacher shortages.  
The story cites that the teacher shortage is “a result of the layoffs of the recession years combined with an improving economy in which fewer people are training to be teachers.”  That doesn’t alleviate the shortage, but it flies in the face of what some would have you believe about South Dakota. (Dakota War College Aug. 10, 2015)
How do New York shortages fly in the face that South Dakota grossly under pays compared to all surrounding states and that the experts in South Dakota are pointing directly at the salary issue as being on of the key issues for the lack of teachers?

The teacher shortage issue will not be solved by passing an  increase in education funding for one year or even two.  It will take a while to convince young people that teaching in South Dakota is a worthy and sustainable career.  Funding alone won't solve the problem either, but it is a vital place to start.  It may begin to convince some teachers not to leave.  It will show younger people that teaching is a viable option for their future.  It will say that we do care about the work educators do and would like to begin to show some respect to the profession.  Something that is severely lacking in Pierre.

In related news:  Lana Greenfield is mother to Brock Greenfield.  Brock is one of eighteen representatives that voted against HCR 1002.  You know the one that said that South Dakota is facing a teacher shortage and it is becoming a crisis.  District 6 legislative members Rep.Isaac Latterell and Sen. Ernie Otten also voted against the resolution.

In other related news:  I encourage you to read Diane Ravitch's blog post that explores the problems with the New York Time's article discussed in the Dakota War College blog and also mentioned in The Dakota Free Press.

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