Top TN Reasons to Support Tennessee's Teacher Salary Reforms

Blogs, Letters & Testimonials

July 25, 2013

By Mac LeBuhn, Policy Analyst

Last month, the Tennessee Board of Education approved a policy to provide flexibility to school districts from the current statewide teacher salary schedule that is based solely on seniority and degrees earned. Beginning in the 2014-15 school year, districts will have the flexibility to design alternative salary schedules that better meet the needs of schools and students.

Here are our top ten reasons for supporting Tennessee’s teacher salary reforms.

1. TN is one of 15 states with rigid, state-mandated salaries. Reforms would give principals more flexibility to reward good teaching.

2. Old TN pay system rewards experience and additional degrees. Neither is related to student achievement.

3. Seniority and degrees earned are regressive policies that exacerbate spending inequities between schools.

4. Early career star teachers leave the classroom in large numbers. Slow timeline for salary increases is a prime culprit.

5. One CO school district saw teacher turnover fall by 50 percent after smart pay reforms like those being considered in TN.

6. Toledo, OH pursued compensation reforms that were so well-received by teachers that the AFT awarded them a $200,000 Innovation Award.

7. In Washington, DC 75% of teachers participate in voluntary merit pay plan, up from 60% in 2010. Max teacher salary = $132,000.

8. Research shows performance pay helps fill hard-to-staff positions. The new pay system will permit bonuses for teachers in these schools.

9. No teacher will see a cut in pay as a result of the reforms. Many teachers will see salary increases once leaders have more flexibility.

10. Teachers and their union in Newark, NJ approved new merit pay plan in 2012.  Teachers could get 20% increase over average salary.

Mac LeBuhn is a policy analyst at Democrats for Education Reform (DFER). Before joining DFER, Mac was a fourth grade teacher at Rocketship Si Se Puede, a charter school in San Jose, CA. He became involved in education policy through internships at the offices of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, and Colorado State Senator Mike Johnston.