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Day 38 - Differential pay for teachers

Currently, a Utah teacher's salary is based on two factors: how many years experience and what level of education a teacher has. Click here to see an example.

Teacher performance is not a factor in determining teacher pay. Also, school districts do not differentiate between teachers in hard-to-fill positions such as science, math and special education and positions that are not hard to fill. If a calculus teacher and a dance teacher have the same level of education and the same amount of experience, they get paid the same.

This type of compensation system is not found in the private sector for one main reason: it's not a financially sound way to run an organization.

Fortunately, the Legislature is considering a bill that will improve the current system. Rep. Ronda Menlove (R - Garland) is sponsoring HB381 which would add $5,000 to the salaries of teachers in critical shortage areas such as

- Math III/IV, chemistry, physics, integrated science

- Special education, including mild/moderate, severe, pre-school, and visually impaired

- Speech language pathologists and audiologists

The fiscal note for this part of HB381 is $21,150,000. The program will be administered by the Utah State Office of Education and will be a below-the-line item in the Minimum School Program (which means it won't be included in the WPU).

HB381 also requires the State Office to collect and maintain data relevant to teacher recruitment.

Opponents of this program argue all teachers should get the same pay increases regardless of subject area and performance, but this defies basic economic principles. If public education is having difficulty hiring math teachers but not PE teachers, public education should pay math teachers more. Teacher pay should be based on supply and demand, just like it is for everyone else.

Performance pay will be addressed next year.

HB381 also appropriates $2,350,000 for rural school districts that have difficulty filling teaching positions due to their remote locations.

HB381 appropriates $5 million for beginning teacher induction programs.

Disclaimer: Like all legislation, HB381 may eventually be modified, meaning that the above points may no longer be 100% relevant.

If this bill is so good, why did it pass 70-0-5?

Usually the only good education bills are those that barely pass.

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