Kean Seeks Pay Hike for New and Urban Teachers

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Pressing on with his efforts to make teaching a more attractive profession, Gov. Thomas H. Kean of New Jersey has proposed raising the state's minimum annual salary for teachers to $22,000.

If approved, the new pay level would be the nation's highest state-mandated salary for beginning teachers, according to officials at the Education Commission of the States and the American Federation of Teachers.

The Governor also recommended in his fiscal 1989 budget request that the state provide bonuses to teachers who choose to work in inner-city school districts. The bonus program would also be the first of its kind in the nation, the ecs and aft officials said.

In 1985, New Jersey passed a measure at Mr. Kean's request setting the minimum salary level at $18,500. That move gave the state's teachers one of the highest base-level salaries in the country.

In his Feb. 2 budget message, Mr. Kean again called on lawmakers to raise the minimum pay level, this time by $3,500.

"Low starting salaries preclude many of our best and brightest from ever considering" teaching as a career, he argued. "This minimum salary will be a magnet to attract young teaching talent."

Mr. Kean also proposed paying teachers in inner-city schools two $2,000 bonuses--one after their first year of teaching in an urban district, and the other after their third year.

"Successfully educating our urban young people will be a key to our future progress as a state," he said. "The teachers who take on this responsibility deserve support."

Mr. Kean has presented a total budget package of $11.8 billion for fiscal 1989. It includes $3.5 billion for state aid to local school districts, a $310.3-million--or 9.9 percent--increase over this year's funding level.

He has asked for $30 million to finance the two salary initiatives and is recommending that the state spend $3.2 million to establish an incentive program to reward schools that "do the best job improving students' basic-skills performance."

In his State of the State Message to lawmakers last month, the Governor suggested that the state "explore" the possibility of letting parents choose the public schools their children attend. He also proposed toughening the state's high-school proficiency exam, creating a "report card" for schools, and expanding the number of preschool programs in urban areas.--br

Vol. 07, Issue 20

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