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The Automatic Salary Increase Puzzle

Original post made by Stacey, Amberwood/Wood Meadows, on Feb 24, 2010

Student achievement is greatly affected by the quality of teacher. Therefore, how do automatic salary increases equate to teacher quality?

Comments (24)

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Posted by a reader
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 24, 2010 at 10:36 pm

Without that benefit, you are giving yet another incentive for a teacher, especially in math or sciences, to pursue a far more lucrative career in another field. I know of at least one person who was former teacher with a math background who went into the IT field because of better pay.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 24, 2010 at 10:39 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Web Link

"Because experience and teacher education are the primary determinants of a teacher's position in a district's salary schedule, it is often assumed that higher salaries raise quality because more experienced and highly educated teachers earn more and are more effective. Yet the structure of a salary schedule DOES NOT CONSTITUTE EVIDENCE, and even such conceptually appealing ASSUMPTIONS REQUIRE EMPIRICAL VALIDATION."


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 24, 2010 at 10:46 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Reader,

I can't see much benefit to be derived from an individual employee point of view since employees get "frozen" some years and there's a top limit. The benefit of being able to look up on a chart what your salary is/could be seems quite small and certainly doesn't seem like a recruiting tool.

I suggest you look around the web a little and try to find the answer to my question. I can't seem to find one that positively correlates automatic pay increases for experience and additional educational units with higher student outcomes.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 24, 2010 at 10:55 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Forgot to add... please don't confuse salary amounts with automatic salary increases. I think it is slightly off topic, but apparently one effect of unions on teacher compensation has been a steady compression between the bottom and top rates on a salary schedule (Web Link scroll down to "Taking Money from Good Teachers to Give to Bad Teachers").


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 24, 2010 at 10:57 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

letsgo had asked me in another thread something about the stepless salary schedule but the post got lost to me and I never responded. The thing that looked appealing to me about it is that it would work within the current system without drastic changes.


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Posted by Get the facts
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 24, 2010 at 11:21 pm

Stacey, I'm sorry you feel that I am not worth the modest pay increases, especially since I don't always have a S & C kick in pay, yet my health care costs go up EVERY year.


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Posted by Repeated studies
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 24, 2010 at 11:38 pm

After watching humans for a number of decades, I'm certain automatic increases have no bearing on competance and quality of instruction.
Pay for merit is the only fair and just method.


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Posted by resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 24, 2010 at 11:57 pm

Of course the guy who left the teaching profession for IT had his job outsourced to India last year, so


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Posted by SteveP
a resident of Parkside
on Feb 25, 2010 at 8:29 am

SteveP is a registered user.

There's no greater incentive to remaining productive than to be rewarded based on performance and accomplishments. Using that time tested model, the harder you work and the better you perform, the greater your reward (whether it be revenue or promotion/ responsibility, etc.).
If you remove that incentive and replace it with mandated increases, where's a person's motivation to excel? Answer: There is none and you've just been seduced by the union/govt model of compensation.
The only folks that rise above the stagnant masses are new employees with something to prove and some pride in accomplishing something meaningful. But, eventually, even those employees get beat down by the pervasive mediocrity that is pervasive in that environment.


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Posted by PUSD parent
a resident of Birdland
on Feb 25, 2010 at 9:05 am

I really believe that if teachers in THIS DISTRICT were paid based on merit, the district would spend just as much money if not more. The vast majority of teachers in PUSD are above average for the field. Now if you think the teachers are overpaid, that's another conversation.

Just saying: be careful what you wish for, you just might get it...


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 25, 2010 at 9:33 am

Stacey is a registered user.

PUSD parent,

That's ok. The real problem to me isn't in salary amount, it is in cost control/sustainability from the district/taxpayer point of view during times like this when there's no COLA from the State (or even negative COLA!) and the revenue limit is being cut. The salary schedule obligates the district to pay for automatic salary increases even when there's no money to do so.

So what is being paid for? Get the Facts writes that somehow I don't feel that they're worth the modest pay increase (a distraction from the question, imho). Well, how do we know whether they are worth it or not? A compensation system should provide incentive for employee improvement in their careers that benefit the company. In the education industry, teacher quality greatly affects student outcomes. So it would benefit the company to provide incentive for teacher quality improvement. I haven't been able to find any adequate justification for automatic salary increases that it increases teacher quality. Perhaps another can.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 25, 2010 at 9:36 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Incidentally, the district _also_ provides professional development training/meetings/whatnot. So it is paying for both incentives (that don't really align with the goals) and actual training that does align with goals.


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Posted by Sandy Piderit
a resident of Mohr Park
on Feb 25, 2010 at 9:51 am

Steve P. wrote "If you remove that incentive [to be rewarded based on performance] and replace it with mandated increases, where's a person's motivation to excel? Answer: There is none"

I agree that when we're talking about tangible, financial incentives and rewards, the impact on motivation is higher when merit pay or bonuses are used. That's consistent with the best research I've read about compensation and rewards.

But I disagree that if tangible incentives and rewards are removed, there's nothing left to motivate a worker.

My understanding of research on motivation is that there are two sources of motivation: tangible and intangible. The tangible sources are the financial ones.

The intangible sources of motivation come from individuals' values. Workers with a strong work ethic, and a commitment to their coworkers and their clients, will be highly motivated to perform their best and to seek continual improvement in their work, regardless of how they are paid.

When a manager is hiring new employees, this is what differentiates between who gets hired and who doesn't even get an interview -- the evidence that a job candidate has a track record consistent with excellent performance.

In my job as a business professor, I know for a fact that I won't be punished in my paycheck if I don't meet a deadline. I earn a salary, and I'm not eligible for any merit pay or bonuses. Even if I were to show up poorly prepared to teach my classes, there would be no direct financial consequences for me.

However, I was hired because my track record shows that I'm an excellent performer, and that I'm not motivated by money or by fear of punishment. I work hard to meet deadlines and teach great classes because I care about my students. I know that if I don't do my best, I wouldn't be living in accordance with my personal values, and I would lose my sense of self-respect.

If you look at the research on motivation, intrinsic motivation is a much more powerful driver of behavior than extrinsic incentives or rewards. If you need research citations, let me know -- I can dig them up over the weekend.

Stacey, I know I haven't directly answered the question you posed at the beginning of this thread. I don't think that automatic salary increases equate with or guarantee high quality teaching. But I do think that higher salaries are correlated with higher quality teaching.

I would like to learn more about other ways that public schools have approached teacher pay, and I've looked at the links you posted earlier about the stepless salary schedule used in some districts in Arizona and other states. That would be a much more interesting conversation to me than the question you asked, about how automatic salary increases affect teacher quality and teaching quality.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 25, 2010 at 10:05 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Sandy wrote: "But I do think that higher salaries are correlated with higher quality teaching."

Yes, apparently they are. The Princeton publication I linked to above details some of that.


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Posted by Seriously?
a resident of Ruby Hill
on Feb 25, 2010 at 10:17 am

Has everyone forgotten about the little darlings at Foothill who purposely bombed their STAR test because the school forbid sexual dancing at all events? Are we really going to trust children to take these tests seriously? Why would we give children under the age of 18 so much power when we don't even trust them to vote?


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 25, 2010 at 10:21 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Huh? This is a discussion about automatic pay increases, not any specific student test-based merit pay proposal.


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Posted by tired
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 25, 2010 at 10:55 am

Health care costs go up for *everyone* each year - I don't know anyone in the private sector who gets their premiums paid entirely by their employer. The employee contribution amount goes up EVERY year, and in our case the coverage is less (higher co-pays and larger deductibles).

Raises? Nope - not in the past 3 years here - a 20% cut, in fact! And 5 furlough days per quarter - which go unpaid if you don't have vacation accrued - since vacation is 10 days/year, well you do the math!

The union voted for health care to be purchased by the employee, so frankly I'm tired of the complaints about something the union lobbied for! Quite frankly, it is *nothing* compared to what the private sector is enduring right now...


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Posted by Learning
a resident of Mission Park
on Feb 25, 2010 at 11:46 am

Can anyone here answer the question I posed elsewhere? My question is if we were to freeze S&C (automatic pay increases) would we be legally obligated to pay it off in the future? In other words, would we just be deferring the issue (kicking the can down the road)? Is it a negotiated item or state law? If so, that would seem to me to be a major constraint to managing expenses with revenues.

If it is not a legal or negotiated constraint, then why has it not been discussed by the district management team as a viable option? Management teams in the private sector have been having these discussions for months now.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 25, 2010 at 1:28 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Learning,

The answer is, like most education issues, complicated. It is tied up in both law and negotiation. Even if there is a freeze, employees still "move" along the salary schedule. This means that the cost of the automatic salary increase ($1.6MM in current year, $1.5MM last year) grows as time goes by (assume $3.2MM in two years, $4.8MM in three years, etc.) The size of the increase from a base year grows regardless! The savings are realized in the total amount that the district pays out over time. If it isn't paying $1.6MM in one year, that's $1.6MM less being paid.

There's no legal requirement that the increase has to be so large because the salary schedule is negotiable.


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Posted by Anonymousse
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 25, 2010 at 1:49 pm

While it's good to have this discussion, and that PUSD and the community is trying to come up with a solution, as long as there is no pension reform at the state level, we are going to face major budget problems every year.

The fact that teachers gave salary concessions to the amount of $4.6 million is admirable, especially given that they should not have been blamed for the district's fiscal problems in the first place. By forcing teachers to take paycuts is akin to blaming a bank for a robbery--they are as much victims in this as we are.

Many of the teachers in this district have the equivalent of a master's degree in education, and to have a salary of $80K-$90K is not unusual for a person with this kind of pedigree.

If pension obligations (for teachers and other gov't employees) are not reduced or eliminated in the future, we are going to see more and more cuts to crucial programs such as education, health care, and infrastructure. The state's pension obligations are the root cause for the lack of funding for education.

I believe PUSD has a sizable pension obligation as well, and going forward this is the area where cuts should be made, not to employees' paychecks, because no one gets rich off of teacher salaries.


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Posted by Pleasanton Resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 25, 2010 at 2:07 pm

Many good discussions and many items (automatic pay raises even in today's economic situation) clarified finally! $80-$90K for masters-level but for 9 months! Not bad if one can get a summer job somewhere else...


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Posted by Sandy Piderit
a resident of Mohr Park
on Feb 25, 2010 at 6:04 pm

Stacey, thanks for pointing out that you put in a web link -- I skip right over them without seeing them often when on the forums, because they all say "web link". I respect Eric Hanushek's research. That's why I said correlated, and not cause...


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Posted by Need change
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 25, 2010 at 8:33 pm

It starts at the state. Like Anonymousse said unless we get the state pensions fixed there is little hope in any area in CA to get better....roads, bridges, education, etc. all suffer because of the crushing pension obligations. We mimic those SAME conditions here in the districts. But as far as state money, it starts there. That doesn't excuse education (CTA) dealing with their part in the assult against the taxpayers! The CTA union always has millions of $$ for ads in every political issue campaign....taking sides in issues that have NOTHING to do with education....just acting like another union in the gutter...thinking they're superior and "entitled"...which they are NOT. Some teachers also forget their place and get in the political gutter with their union representatives. They really need to decide whether they want to be part of the community OR party of the greedy, ignorant, union thugs that tell them HOW to THINK !! ...(could help at times like this).


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Posted by cna training
a resident of Ridgeview Commons
on Feb 28, 2010 at 10:58 am

Keep posting stuff like this i really like it


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