Pay matters. The importance of pay generally isn't disputed, except when it comes to teachers. In their case we've allowed a fiercely anti-tax movement to prevail over the last several decades instead of making sure that teacher salaries remain competitive. Teachers have been losing ground since the 1990s, resulting in a 20 percent disparity between theirs and comparable jobs. From Twitter to Time Magazine, the issue is gaining visibility.
We've got a lot of ground to make up. The American public appears to recognize that need, as made clear in the recent USA Today/CBS News poll—so much so that they are willing to support teachers leaving the classroom to go on strike.
As the nation sets out to achieve some semblance of competitive teacher salaries, it would be a mistake to view this issue in isolation and overlook other issues raised in this poll. Chief among them is that the American public is not nearly so supportive of teachers unions, primarily because unions are too often in the business of protecting teachers who ought not to be in the classroom.
Union leaders are doing their members no favors by fighting efforts to remove ineffective teachers from the classroom, as that provides reticent state legislators and school boards all the evidence they need to resist pay increases. This is unfair to good teachers everywhere and a reason why teachers themselves are frustrated by their union leaders, as polls consistently report.
Regarding pay and dismissal policies, these two issues, like it or not, go hand in hand. NCTQ urges states and districts to not only address the pay disparity, but reform the laws and policies which they've allowed to stand, making it far too difficult to protect the quality of the teaching profession.
For a review of how your state's dismissal policies stack up, go here.
For a review of the pay policies in the nation's largest school districts, go here.