Should Kentucky Teachers Get A Bonus For Working In Struggling Schools?

Discussion sparked last week as an op-ed surfaced in The Courier-Journal, pulling no punches: “We’ve set up a system throughout Kentucky, and particularly in JCPS, that fails our most vulnerable students and hamstrings our lowest-performing schools, known as priority schools.”

There’s a reason behind why some schools are stagnant, author Kent Oyler posits, though that reason has been buried beneath a fiery storm of finger-pointing and accusations. The truth, according to Oyler, is that too many struggling schools have trouble keeping good teachers because of pay.

Teacher pay is a hot-button issue in any political season, but the debate has escalated as a result of the heated rhetoric surrounding this year’s legislative session. As Oyler explains, the issue lies within the way Kentucky’s salary structure compensates our teachers:

“Under current state law, teacher compensation is dictated by a uniform single-salary schedule, a system based strictly on seniority and degree attainment. This system has had some success at helping teachers receive competitive annual wages… But the single-salary schedule has numerous flaws, not least among which is the fact that it restricts the ability of districts to use increased monetary incentives — such as cash bonuses — to attract and retain teachers at priority schools.”

Kentucky isn’t alone in the battle for teacher retention. Other rural states like West Virginia have issues finding and keeping good teachers as well, and the results are pretty drastic for students.

So the question stands: Should teachers in struggling schools get a raise?

Let us know your thoughts.


Photo by Scott Beale, CC-Licensed.

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