Today I signed my agreement to officially return for a third year at my school. As a small center, we’ve had a pretty tight budget every year, but we were fortunate enough to see a slight pay increase going into next year. But my agreement also led me to some questions.
Now that I’m in my third year, I’m also a fully certified educator. Over the past two years I was paid lower than my colleagues because I wasn’t credentialed like them. Yet, my pay increase is the same percentage as their increase. I don’t fault my school for not having the money to provide me a larger increase, but I do wonder if this is a more widespread problem for Teach For America teachers who do stay in the classroom. I imagine if I wanted to stay longer than a year and waited out some of my colleagues I could get a large increase, but that creates a waiting game. I wouldn’t be interested in playing it.
Further, as I approach the end of my Masters program, veteran teachers continue to advise me against completing it until I secure a good position. I think this makes sense if I’m to pursue a career in a public school. They generally have steps and lanes (specific pay scales) that make it less desirable for schools to hire more qualified individuals. The more educated a candidate, the more they cost the school. I wonder if there are cases of individuals omitting their graduate degrees from their résumés or foregoing higher education altogether as a result of these hiring practices. In a charter school I imagine that’s not the case, as educators aren’t guaranteed higher pay for higher education — which is another debate.
My former principal told me to go out there and market myself in the coming year and advocate for the best deal possible. I think I have to brush up on my negotiation skills!
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