Educators across Georgia are watching with interest as a special committee appointed by Gov. Nathan Deal attempts to revise the state’s K-12 education funding system.
Among the concerns is that Deal wants to quit basing teacher compensation on training and experience, a move that greatly alarms local educators.
Tenure and degree play big parts currently in teacher compensation. Deal wants compensation to be determined by student performance, particularly growth in achievement from year to year.
Deal tasked his Governor’s Education Reform Commission to come up with a recommendation by the end of the year, which suggests Deal wants the General Assembly to approve a new system during the 2016 legislative session. Deal cited data he said shows that experience and advanced degrees have little effect on improving instruction.
Under the proposal, a state average pay would be calculated and school systems would receive state funds based on the number of teachers employed.
But the plan is far from a done deal.
“The last thing we heard is that Rep. Terry England, the chairman, said if we are going to do that — going to stop paying for advanced degrees — they would grandfather all those (currently employed teachers with advanced degrees) in,” said Joy Tolbert, Commerce superintendent of schools.
For each advanced degree — master’s, specialist’s and doctorate — a teacher currently gets paid in the neighborhood of $5,000 more per year, the superintendent said.
“Those people may be sitting on a lot of (student) debt,” she pointed out. “If that (extra pay) is stopped immediately, it’s going to put lots of people in a lot of hurt. We would like to think if they’re going to make a change like that, they would let them (teachers) know up front so they will have some options.”
Tolbert said it would be “very unfair” to terminate educational stipends and leave teachers holding the debt they accrued gaining those advanced degrees.
More than 75 percent of Commerce School System educators have advanced degrees, with 61 master’s degrees, 46 specialist’s degrees and two doctoral degrees.
For the full story, see the July 29 issue of The Commerce News.