We Should Revamp the Teacher-Pay System

The president of the National Education Association says the salary schedules school districts have traditionally used to pay teachers no longer work, and they should be replaced with a system that recognizes teacher effectiveness.

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Dennis Van Roekel, president of the National Education Association, or NEA, came out strongly against single-salary teacher-compensation systems at an Education Writers Association, or EWA, event held earlier this month in Chicago. “Let’s get rid of step and lane,” he declared. “I don’t like it.” Van Roekel’s comments about trading in one-size-fits-all salary schedules, long used by school districts in setting the pay of teachers, in favor of salaries based, at least in part, on teaching effectiveness reinforces the NEA’s reputation as a forward-thinking teachers union.

Step-and-lane pay scales, which tie teachers’ salary increases to years of experience and to the number of higher-education credits earned and degrees attained, have long been a hot topic of debate in education-reform circles. The step-and-lane pay scale was created to address inequities for teachers who were traditionally provided little in the way of salary, security, or fairness, by standardizing teacher pay.

As the teaching profession has evolved, however, the stagnant nature of step-and-lane pay scales must be reconsidered, as Van Roekel voiced.

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