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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Last Hired, First Fired Punishes Expert Teachers

Steve Owens has posted quite a fine article about the single salary schedule used by most districts to determine teacher salaries.

I'm afraid Mr. Owens' article leaves out some important information about how most schools actually implement their single salary schedules.

The single salary schedule rewards only teachers who stay in the same district their entire career. A teacher who moves to a new district is deemed an out-of-district teacher. IF such a teacher can even be hired ( and the more years of experience, the more unemployable), that teacher will have to take a pay cut to the level of 5 years since most districts will give credit for no more than 5 years of experience.

Pity the teacher who returns to the US after decades of experience overseas as a DODDS teacher. They are out-of-district for every district in America. They have to be willing to take a steep pay cut relative to their education (most have Masters degrees) and experience. They are bargain basement teachers, but most schools consider their extra pay too high when compared to a new graduate with no experience “because we have budget cuts, doncha know?”

Mr. Owens states, “Seniority is "last in, first out" which prevents veteran teachers from being terminated in favor of younger, cheaper workers.” Last in, first out guarantees that newly hired expert teachers will also be the first let go, in favor of younger, cheaper teachers, never mind the expert teacher is a bargain to begin with.

He also states, “A large population of career educators has stuck around, and has acquired additional training and education.” It is exactly those teachers, who instead of being rewarded, get punished by the way the single salary schedule is implemented in most districts.

Many private schools have similar single salary schedules and implement them with the same deleterious policies and effects.


  1. Excellent point. The benefits of the system accrue to those who never move. I'm not arguing that this is a perfect system, just that we need a clear understanding of the rationales for the existing system in order to make good policy choices. If we are going to change things, we'll be both gaining and losing. Thanks for pushing my thinking and for responding on your blog!

  2. Many teachers stay in the same district for their entire career out of fear of winding up like me. I spent 19 years in one district, and because I wasn't a young sexy thing with a skirt up to my buttcheeks when I got my MA in Chemistry in 2001, I was allowed to molder in a job that was nothing more than a zookeeper for middle school EDs and PIs. After three teachers were hired, with two degrees, one certificate and no experience between them, I filed a complaint for age discrimination w/EEOC. They took my case, and I ultimately won- but the pressure of suing everyone from your supervisor up took its toll, and I had to find another job. Over five years I had three jobs, and was lucky that I was so in demand that my pay cut was minimal. Unfortunately, in my second job I was poisoned when my employer gave me a work station with an acid limestone waste pit under my desk, that had turned to a cesspool due to the fact that teachers were using their lab sinks and dishwashers for foodstuffs, and NOT doing labs. I was poisoned, and my WC case is 3 and 1/2 yrs in NJ court system, and counting. I could have retired w/work related injury then, but I kept trying to find work, since my twins are in college. My last job was at a tech school in Camden county, NJ where they hired the best and most experienced, and fired them just before they would get tenure. The day I got my non-renewal letter, I was having an endoscopy that revealed that I had a very serious gastric ulcer. The next week, I opted to apply for my disability retirement, and TPAF has been playing games with me since then- May 2010- and I still do not have my pension. I changed attorneys due to the fact that mine was in collusion with TPAF, and have to wait until Jan 2012 for my pension trial!! I barely manage with SSD and UI; I consider myself luckier than most of the 30 persons who were let go with me, only one of whom has found a job.Over 30 more were let go this year, and the school is being taken over by the county college. I get job search reports daily, and the only places hiring are 3 hr drive from my home. I suspect they would not hire me anyway, due to my age, experience and salary requirements. What disgusts me is that BOEs prefer to have more and cheaper teachers, instead of one who could do the work of three. Go figure. In closing, let me advise you that I REFUSED to leave any of the materials I bought or developed for my job, which my ex-employer counted on, instead preferring to trash them or store them in my basement. The "new" teacher they hired to replace me started with NOTHING. I didn't even wash the glassware before I put it away, and gave away to other teachers equipment I had that they needed, right down to my classroom flag. Incidentally, they replaced my "replacement" twice last year. What goes around, comes around. Sadly, the parents of these students, mostly black lower-class Camden residents, did nothing whatsoever to stop the destruction of the school, which began with the loss of the teachers who nurtured their children. Another sign of the times.

  3. It is terrible what some of us, the most experienced one have to endure. I have been a teacher for almost 20 years, have been a technology specialist, finishing my Masters degree, and hundreds of professional development hours to improve myself but none of that is valued. I resigned at one point from the school system because I was bullied out, literally. I was doing too much and some teachers felt that I was making them look bad, so the bullying started. Anyhow, now I am trying to get back to the classroom, and although I have interviewed many times already, no offer yet. This article is absolutely true, "The more experience and expertise you have, the less marketable you are in the education field because you are more expensive. How are we suppose to go back into the classroom? Why do we pursue higher degrees when they are of no value and do not make you more marketable in the education field? Professional standards are only good if you know someone that will help you in but nothing else. And the saga will continue....

  4. I think i must agree with your point of view because i have this experience..