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PDQ: Pretty Darn Quick Blog

Does AFT Support Differential Pay? Hard to Say...

07/24/2007

Depending on your point of view, the glass represented by the American Federation of Teachers' new report on recruitment and retention in underperforming schools is either half full or half empty. In Meeting the Challenge: Recruiting and Retaining Teachers in Hard-to-Staff Schools, the AFT provides examples of how school districts and local unions are working together to address recruitment and retention issues in schools that often serve the most disadvantaged students.

It's hard to argue with the AFT's conclusion that "success requires a strategic mix of best practice, with consideration of local conditions, political will and financial commitment." The report not only includes examples of successful strategies (such as a behavior specialist program to address school safety issues in Toledo, Ohio; strong induction programs from New York City, California and Illinois; teacher collaboration in effective reading instruction in Rhode Island; and marketing initiatives in Philadelphia, Chicago and Baltimore) but also includes the actual contract language that supports these strategies--a useful tool for dissemination to other districts.

The problem, though, is that the union focuses on soft areas like time for collaboration and effective marketing, which, although important, avoid the fundamental issue about recruitment and retention in underperforming schools--districts should be able to offer different salaries to teachers who teach in more challenging settings.

The report makes a brief reference to salary differentials pointing out that "financial incentives are an important first step, but they are not enough" to address these issues. Other than that sentence, you wouldn't know from this report that the AFT thinks salary differentials are an important first step. But we're happy to help spread the word.

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