Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Teachers deserve the respect of a salary raise

Having been lucky enough to help choose the new Hernando County Teacher of the Year, I can offer this informed, thoughtful opinion about whether educators in this state and county deserve more money:

Of COURSE they flippin' do!

This year's winner — announced at a banquet Friday night — is Bethann Brooks, 48, who teaches nursing at Central High School and who impressed everyone on the selection committee as a great example of her profession — actually, as a great example of professionalism in general. Heck, of humanity in general.

Along with being a teacher, Brooks is the mother of five children and a nurse. Not a former nurse, but a teacher who spends some weekends and part of each summer at her old job, partly so she can bring students up-to-date, frontline information about their chosen career.

You'd think this would take her focus off teaching.

And you'd be wrong.

She switched from nursing to teaching seven years ago, she told us, because she thought it would give her more time to spend with her own kids. Instead, they ended up waiting for her after school while she helps out with a whole long list of extracurriculars.

She does this, she said, because it's fun, because she likes being involved with her school as much as possible and because she just plain loves teaching.

Teacher of the Year candidates would say that, of course, and sure enough just about all of them did.

So what? I believed them.

Not just because we on the committee could get a good feel for candidates' sincerity after spending six evenings over the past two weeks conducting interviews (which turned out to be as fun for me as helping out with the prom committee is for Brooks).

But also because, as countless psychological studies have shown, a strong sense of purpose is a major predictor of happiness.

And what could give a stronger sense of purpose than teaching? Nothing that I can think of, short of maybe brain surgery.

I know. Not every teacher is as skilled and committed as the ones we talked to. And without spending time in their classrooms, we couldn't even be absolutely sure they are as skilled and committed as they seemed.

I'm reasonably sure, though, that most of them are and that they mostly represent the quality of Hernando teachers as a whole.

I also think our investment in them is more than just an investment in schools, crucial as that is. As one candidate told us, teachers are teachers even when they aren't in class; a trip to Walmart can mean a half-dozen spontaneous parent-teacher conferences.

So, when we pay the salaries of our 1,477 classroom teachers, we're paying to build the community — which is, by the way, a community that suffers from chronic brain drain, a place of limited opportunity that many smart, young residents want to leave.

Teaching is one of the few jobs that keeps them here; about half of the Teacher of the Year contenders were home-grown.

So, if we're already retaining employees and providing them with rewarding careers, why pay them more?

Well, another recurring theme during these interviews was the lack of respect for their profession, which isn't surprising in a culture where respect is usually rewarded with cash.

And if teachers in Hernando are no longer near the very bottom of the pay scale in Florida, their average salary of $43,500 is still about $2,500 less than teachers statewide. And Florida teachers earn less than teachers in all but four states in the country.

So, put aside arguments about the finer points of and the motives behind Gov. Rick Scott's plan to give an across-the-board raise to teachers. Just ask whether they deserve more money.

Sure they do.

We can only give one teacher a Teacher of the Year award. But we can show them all a little bit more respect. With cash.

Teachers deserve the respect of a salary raise 01/26/13 [Last modified: Saturday, January 26, 2013 11:22am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Tampa International Airport morphing into a mini-city unto itself

    Airlines

    TAMPA — By the end of the 2026, Joe Lopano wants Tampa International Airport to function as its own little city.

    Artist rendering of phase two of the $1 billion construction expansion of Tampa International Airport. The airport is transforming 17 acres of airport property that will include at least one hotel, retail and office space and a gas station, among other things.
[Courtesy of Tampa International Airport]
  2. William March: Sheriff Gee denies his resignation was timed to help GOP

    News

    Sheriff David Gee is denying through spokesmen that he planned his 2016 re-election and subsequent resignation to help Republicans hold the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. But Democrats say it seems obvious he did.

  3. Trump meeting with G-7 leaders after going on offensive

    Nation

    TAORMINA, Italy — In the Middle East, President Donald Trump was feted with pageantry, the leaders of Saudi Arabia and Israel seemingly in competition to outdo the other with the warmth of their welcomes and the depth of their pledges of cooperation.

    From left, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, U.S. President Donald Trump and Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni arrive for the group photo at the G7 Taormina summit on the island of Sicily on Friday  in Taormina, Italy. [Getty Images]
  4. Perspective: As the toll climbs, advocates bring renewed attention to Florida gun violence

    Perspective

    Times Staff Writer

    Like most 12-year-old girls, Ra'Mya Eunice loved slumber parties.

    The Empire State Building in New York City was bathed in tangerine light last year to mark National Gun Violence Awareness Day. It was part of the Wear Orange campaign led by the non-profit Everytown for Gun Safety. [Courtesy of Everytown for Gun Safety]
  5. Lawyer says Kushner willing to cooperate with investigators

    Nation

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is willing to cooperate with federal investigators looking into ties between Russia and the Trump campaign, his attorney said.

    In this May 23 photo, White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, left, and his wife Ivanka Trump watch during a visit by President Donald Trump to Yad Vashem to honor the victims of the Holocaust in Jerusalem. The Washington Post is reporting that the FBI is investigating meetings that Trump's son-in-law, Kushner, had in December 2016, with Russian officials. [AP photo]