Posted on: Monday, January 15, 2001
Incentives at DOE are out of whack
This is how it is in Hawaiis public schools: Teachers aspire to be principals, and principals aspire to desk jobs in the education bureaucracy. This is because principals get paid more than teachers, and because educational officers get paid as well as principals but experience a lot less stress.
And it is a completely backward system.
We dont have enough good teachers, and were about to experience a serious shortage of principals. So, quite irrationally, our system of incentives encourages teachers and principals to desert the positions we need most for the positions we need least.
It is more than just tempting to suggest this situation cant be changed because, well, thats the way it is. With the union agreements in place, reform wont be easy.
But reform is necessary. Better teachers are the key to improved learning, and better principals are the key to better schools. Its self-defeating to siphon off the best of both groups to more laid-back desk jobs.
Senate Education Chairman Norman Sakamoto suggests "a career ladder in the school system so the principals and vice principals dont feel they have to advance to a desk job instead of staying with the students."
We need to ensure the retention of proven principals by paying them more in some cases, a lot more. Given our druthers, this higher pay and higher recognition would be accompanied by a de-unionization of these obviously management positions.
For teachers, we favor teaching categories called "senior" or "master" teachers, rewarded with higher pay and other perks, to induce our best teachers to remain in the classroom.
The time to act on this problem is now. With as many as 64 percent of Hawaiis principals eligible to retire in the next five years, the time to be clear about constructive incentives is now.
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