Education Opinion

Supply and Demand, Amen

By Roslyn Johnson Smith, Ph.D. — April 14, 2008 2 min read
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As I searched the aisles of Home Depot a little while ago looking for chandelier cleaner, I spotted the famous McDonogh 42 Elementary Charter School Second Grade Teacher extraordinaire, Paulette Larkin, with her grandchildren making a purchase. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating her fame, but not her extraordinary status. She’s an excellent teacher who just happened to be pictured in a story on the front page of the Times-Picayune today. Okay, maybe it didn’t just happen, the principal selected her for the photograph, but she looks great in her photos. The photographer didn’t just happen to be at our school either. He was there because the newspaper was doing a story on teacher salaries in New Orleans.

According to a report from the Louisiana State Department of Education, our school has one of the highest pay schedules in the city’s public schools. Although the figure reported in the PEP report claims we budgeted an average of $55,698 per teacher, that number is higher than what we actually pay. I’m not sure what is added to the calculations once we submit the actual annual salary for each teacher, but it increased the numbers from the $48,156 we calculated in October. I noticed that the head count of 28 did not match the Full Teacher Equivalency figure of 24 in our report. That would make a big difference. I also don’t know the amount added to each teacher’s salary for earned supplements which are input by the state. Even so, we would have been in the top ten no matter how you figured it.

I think that is good news. Since there is so much competition for good teachers everywhere (but especially here), I think it is great for our staff to know that they are highly regarded and justly compensated for their work. For the first time in a long while, I am not embarrassed about what we pay our educators. Someone told me if and when the charter school movement cools off and we return to one district the high salaries will be gone also. I hope not. It doesn’t have to be. We are not using the one-time federal dollars to pay our salaries because we want to be able to sustain them in the future. We are only using reoccurring funding for teacher salaries. One of our goals in operating the charter schools is to model effective urban schooling. Learning how to handle the money is a high priority and an important lesson.

Here’s the link to the news report.

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