05/14/08 — Teacher focus: Let’s face it; best work should be rewarded in schools for all

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Teacher focus: Let’s face it; best work should be rewarded in schools for all

Another day and another announcement of yet another young teacher who has decided that the best place to find a new boyfriend is in her classroom.

Yet another Florida teacher is facing charges that she messed around where she shouldn’t have — and yes, she looks like she should be in high school herself.

Want to know one really big reason why North Carolina should take better care of its teachers?

You are looking right at it.

When professionals are sent a message that their expertise, training and experience do not matter and the care they take in the classroom is not rewarded, they look for somewhere where the opposite is true.

That means the districts that value and reward quality teachers are able to attract the best candidates for jobs, while other districts are forced to take some of those who possibly might not be suited for their jobs in the first place.

And if you run a business, you know what happens when you just put any candidate in a job slot.

If education is truly a priority in the state of North Carolina, and lawmakers at the state, federal and local levels are really serious about improving test scores and lowering the dropout rate, then the first place to invest is in the people we choose to put in the classroom.

A good teacher still will not be able to overcome the barriers of serious home problems, emotional concerns and parents who should not be parents.

They will not be able to miraculously turn a child who has not been able to read or figure a basic math problem into a straight-A student.

But putting the best possible educators in classrooms and encouraging them to pursue additional training and to reward extra effort are the first steps in making schools better. And while you are at it, you should also demand a higher standard, too, of the employees that you are putting in the classroom. Only those who are really committed to providing a quality experience for children need apply.

Providing the materials and continuing education opportunities, as well as some salary incentives, will attract cream of the crop teachers to Wayne County — and will keep the good ones we already have.

That, coupled with support at home and in the county school office and commission chambers, will send a message that education is top priority here.

It is not going to be easy, and some parents are going to have to hear some tough messages. But done right, we could have schools that are not just improving, but that are superstars and an example of how to do it right.

And isn’t that what we all want?

Published in Editorials on May 14, 2008 10:50 AM