4-Step Plan for Teacher Prosperity
This plan is about positive solutions, not blaming others. I understand there are forces at work with their own agenda that may resist change. However, if we can empower teachers to take control of and manage their own financial resources, I truly believe that both our teachers and our community will benefit. It just requires respect and a deeper understanding of how money really works.
Here’s the basic plan:
Step 1 – Effective immediately, make individual compensation confidential.
LOW MORALE will always result from open discussion about compensation. It needs to STOP!
This is CRITICAL. For teachers to become prosperous, their compensation must be confidential and only discussed with their direct administrator or principal. Knowing what other teachers are paid will always breed jealously (“I do more work than her, why is she making more than me?”). Rarely do two different people make the exact same amount of money, nor should they. Unfortunately, this is often exploited by the FCTA as they convince all teachers that they are “underpaid”, even those at the top of the pay scale.
Morale would improve overnight because teachers would feel like they are on the path to pay-for-performance!
Action Item: All teachers should immediately demand that the School Board adopt a stance of compensation privacy and ask that each teacher sign a “Compensation Confidentiality Agreement”. Disclosure of compensation should result in a disciplinary warning at a minimum. It’s how big businesses maintain high morale.
Step 2 – Pay teachers based on performance as well as time on the job
OLD IDEAS die hard; this may well be the toughest issue to solve.
With confidentiality established, the next step is to slightly modify how a teacher’s salary is calculated. Give principals the power of the purse to reward outstanding teachers for a job well done…confidentially of course. Teacher performance (and pay) should not be based just on testing, education level or time on the job.
Instead, why not designate a portion of teacher pay (33%?) to be determined solely at the discretion of the local principal? THEY are the ones who know which teachers in their school deserve a pay increase and/or bonus. Eliminate or reduce the stepped pay system; it breeds envy, discontent and causes low morale.
Promote the idea to new teachers that hard work, passion and a great attitude will be rewarded…because it can be based on Step 1. Take the focus off the “starting salary” and redirect it to future prosperity and quality of life.
As teachers get confidential increases in pay (and potentially bonuses), morale will skyrocket! I remember coming out of my supervisor’s office with an extra spring in my step after even the smallest raise. It was confirmation of my value to the organization.
“But where will the money come from?” you might ask.
71 administrators make more money than the highest paid teacher.
There is plenty of money sloshing around in the system. In fact, 71 administrators make more money than the highest paid teacher! That is unacceptable. A small reduction in pay for the top 5% of members would generate a tremendous bonus pool for the other 95% and low morale would turn to unbridled enthusiasm! Within a year or two the pay-for-performance approach would re-establish top performers to their original, or higher, level.
Caution: Watch closely to see who objects to this step. Typically, low performing individuals will oppose this step while higher performing individuals will embrace it. Low performers will cite “rules and regulations” that prohibit this type of plan. Their opposing view will speak volumes.
Action Item: Immediately reduce the pay for the top non-teacher positions by 5% and put that money into a bonus pool to be used at a Principal’s discretion. Any money distributed from the pool must be kept confidential.
Step 3 – Make FCTA dues optional
LONG OVERDUE; every teacher deserves the right to decide how their money is spent.
The FCTA is literally short changing teachers of their future prosperity each and every month. Even a small monthly amount of $50 can add up to a huge amount over a career. Let teachers opt-out of contributing and let them put that money in their OWN pockets! Happy teachers means, well, happy teachers!
What does the FCTA have to fear? If their members are getting true value from the organization then they will be happy to continue to fund it.
$100 per month saved in the teacher’s pocket will add up to over $80,000 dollars during the course of their career.
Action Item: Immediately move to make teacher contributions to FCTA optional. Ensure that there are no penalties associated with opting out so teachers can keep more of their own money and invest it for their future.
Step 4 – Seize control of your financial future
Teachers are smart. They don’t need outside groups or anyone else making money decisions for them. They just need to learn the 5 Laws of Gold and abide by them. After that, there’s no excuse for a lean purse!
Action Item: Read the timeless book “The Richest Man in Babylon” by George Clason. It’s delightfully short (100 pages or so), yet packed with golden wisdom. Written in the 1920s about a fictional group of characters “seeking wealth” in ancient Babylon, it was required reading by my first employer. I’ve read it every year since then. It’s the best, no-nonsense personal finance advice you’ll ever need to live a prosperous life…regardless of your income.
I have no affiliation with the book whatsoever, it’s just awesome.
Teachers are the core of our community and society. They teach our kids and shape their minds. While spending their lives helping others, they do not always take the time to help themselves.
Helping teachers prosper financially is what this site is about. Taking a few, basic steps can put teachers on a permanent path to prosperity regardless of their individual income. Adopting a creed of salary confidentiality coupled with pay-for-performance by local principals will lead to higher morale and a better environment for everyone; especially our kids.
…and who doesn’t want to help our kids?
Word of Caution
I anticipate that some of the ideas expressed here will be violently opposed; especially by those at the higher levels of the FCPS and FCTA. These ideas go against the “way we [they] do things”. All I can say to the individual teachers out there is to re-read and think about these concepts. Do your own research and see if they make sense. Get the recommended book and read it – twice. Then, make up your own mind.
Enough is REALLY Enough.
In the words of a favorite icon from my generation:
“Live long and Prosper”