The Houston Chronicle has an editorial where they state that “Morale will remain low until all good teachers are paid what they are worth to society.” I agree that the pay structure needs to be revisited. There are teachers who deserve more pay and teachers who barely deserve the pay they are receiving. Teachers should have an opportunity to receive merit raises as anyone would in another industry. And, yes, to some the salary is an issue that affects morale.
However, it’s not the only issue. blogHOUSTON takes a crack at this topic that’s pretty much on the money (and those of you who actually read my blogs know that I don’t usually agree with them). While I take issue with the breakdown of vacation and work hours (I have four teachers in my family and can tell you that they work more Saturdays and take home work more times than I do — and I’m a workaholic), their compilation of morale issues is accurate:
Where there is low morale in schools, other factors are often the cause — unruly students, uninvolved parents, weak-willed administrators, dumbed-down curricula geared to lower-level students, etc. Pay isn’t generally at the top of the list of gripes. Teachers who love to teach aren’t doing it to get rich. They love to help students learn.
To make matters more interesting, blogHOUSTON then chastised the Houston Chronicle for their publishing the names of every teacher who received a raise. This is the point at which I go “WOW!” That was really on point.
Then there’s the issue of the Chronicle posting every teacher’s name who received a bonus, along with the amount of the bonus. I have a problem with that. I don’t have a problem with the Chronicle posting the amounts, the schools and the subjects, but there was no reason for the names to be printed. (Although Gayle Fallon must have enjoyed the blog brawl that ensued. Anything that can get her closer to ALL teachers getting ALL the bonus money is a win for her. More union dues money — yay!)
Yes, it’s public money and that makes it perfectly reasonable to disclose the amounts. It strikes me though that issues of individual pay should be private whenever possible, just as entities are loathe to disclose personnel matters. Can HISD go back to the drawing table to fine-tune the bonus program? Certainly. And that’s something the private sector has been doing for years, but the decision to print the names was unnecessary. The teachers are public sector employees, but generally don’t put themselves in the public eye, and that’s something I wish the Chronicle had considered.
Something I tell my clients regularly is that if you do newsworthy or take a job where you can reasonably expect media attention, then your privacy is gone. No, it’s not fair, but that’s way we work now. However, to take regular people who are only doing their jobs and have not done something that can be categorized as newsworthy and then shine a light on their lives… that’s truly unfair.
Did the teachers do something newsworthy? Not really. All they did is their jobs to the best of their ability. The school district did something newsworthy. Unfortunately, they have been caught in the shadow of that action. If I were one of those teachers, I’d be very upset.