Teachers Column

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If elementary and secondary schools are to compete for talented teachers in shortage areas, salary schedules must be modified to allow for differential pay rates, according to the research of Louis Woo, a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University's Institute for Research on Educational Finance and Governance.

Mr. Woo bases his conclusion on an examination of the faculty-recruitment methods used by colleges and universities.

"Colleges and universities try to compete for scarce talent by providing salaries and other benefits that are tailored to meet their staffing needs," Mr. Woo states in his research paper. He found, for example, that colleges often bring in new assistant professors in shortage areas at a higher step of the salary schedule than that of current faculty members of the same rank.

"It seems pertinent for stakeholders in elementary and secondary schools to recognize the principle of differential salary in order to compete with the general market for talent in areas of shortage," Mr. Woo says.

The Congress should establish a national commission to examine issues related to the supply of and demand for teachers, Willis D. Hawley, dean of Vanderbilt University's college of education, said last month in a hearing before the Subcommittee on Postsecondary Education of the U.S. House of Representatives.

"Unless the causes of the shortages of qualified teachers are addressed," Mr. Hawley said, "all educational reforms will have little impact and the promise of a quality education for all of the nation's children will become empty rhetoric."

He told the subcommittee that a national commission should examine the nature of the teacher shortage; identify criteria for judging strategies to relieve the shortage; and specify a range of alternative policies that address the issue.

Since 1983, 27 states have adopted career-ladder plans, according to the most recent report of the Southern Regional Education Board's Career Ladder Clearinghouse. They are: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Although nearly 75 percent of the teachers polled in a recent nationwide survey would advise a young person interested in teaching to pursue that career, 51 percent would do so "with major reservations."

Of the 1,346 teachers polled by the Educational Research Service in Arlington, Va., about 25 percent said they would recommend teaching without reservations; 22 percent said they would advise students against teaching. Forty-four percent said the status of their profession had declined in the last five years; 24 percent said it was improving; 30 percent saw no change.--cc

Vol. 04, Issue 42

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