Union president: Don’t expect commitment from lower-paid teachers

December 10, 2012

Kyle Olson Kyle Olson

Kyle founded Education Action Group in 2007.
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By Ashleigh Costello
EAGnews.org

NORWALK, CT. – The president of a local Connecticut teachers union has called into question the professionalism of public school teachers.

Norwalk Federation of Teachers President Bruce Mellion said school districts should offer higher salaries if they want to hire “true professionals” who are committed to teaching. 

Mellion’s comments come in response to American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten’s recent call for a new national exam for teachers as a way to elevate the profession.

Under the AFT plan, prospective teachers would have to demonstrate an in-depth knowledge of their subject areas and spend a year as a student teacher before passing a rigorous exam, similar to the bar exam for lawyers.

“If they take a test, that’s fine,” Mellion told TheHour.com. “My follow-up is that we ought to pay them professional wages. You can’t be starting teachers out at $25,000 or $30,000.  If you want a true professional that’s made the commitment, then we should pay them like we ought to.“

“If you want to hold everybody this accountable and have standards, then let’s pay them exactly what they’re due.”

While Mellion probably didn’t mean to suggest entry level teachers are unprofessional, his comments make one wonder how hard some teachers apply themselves when they don’t believe they are making enough money.

Teachers should be committed from day one, end of story. When they accept their jobs, they are promising to do their very best, and be completely committed, for whatever salary they agreed to accept.

Although starting salaries for entry-level teachers appear to be on the low side, annual step raises and premium benefit packages can make teaching a fairly lucrative profession. Moreover, tenure laws give teachers the ultimate job security.

If teachers aren’t committed, they should step aside, regardless of how much or little they make.  Otherwise the students suffer, and that’s completely unacceptable.

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