Education Letter to the Editor

Does Making a Difference Mean Making Very Little?

May 03, 2005 1 min read

To the Editor:

As a teacher certified by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards who just made the wrenching decision not to accept a position in a low-performing school, I feel compelled to respond to Andrew J. Rotherham’s March 30, 2005, Commentary, “Credit Where It’s Due.”

Mr. Rotherham clearly identifies an institutional roadblock to such service. In my case, the district would not recognize two decades of “outside” experience or my national-board certification for placement on its salary schedule. Interestingly, just honoring my experience would still have brought me in at a salary less than that of the retiree I was replacing. How ironic. The district could have tapped into my expertise without spending any additional money for salary.

I sought out this school because I know I have the skills and experience to make a difference. Obviously, the school principal thought likewise and offered me the position. Sadly, neither of us was supported in our efforts to address academic disparities, and neither had any leverage with a system that continues to regard time spent in-house as more valuable than documented student or teacher achievement.

I’m willing to share my story with any state, federal, or local policymaker committed to finding financially viable ways to allow teachers such as myself to work on the front lines in the most challenging positions.

Patricia A. Jones

Ridgefield, Wash.