Occasional NC Policy Watch contributor and Asheville communications consultant Betsey Russell sent us the following essay about her experience with business plans (like the one advanced by Gov. McCrory this week) that target pay raises for junior employees at the expense of veterans:
The Value of Experience
By Betsey Russell
A few years ago, I sold my small company to a larger one. I had a small staff of experienced professionals at my firm, most with several years under their belts and a strong intention to stay in our line of work. They were hardworking, creative, and extremely valuable in terms of our overall profitability. In fact, their work is what helped make my firm attractive for the purchaser.
So, imagine my dismay when I was negotiating on behalf of my staff with the new company owner about compensation and benefits, and he suggested that instead of retaining these highly trained professionals, he might simply replace them with workers who were “younger and cheaper.”
This experience came to mind when I reviewed Governor McCrory’s plans to increase the salaries of starting teachers, but not the salaries of the valuable veterans I have so appreciated in my children’s classrooms. In fact, under McCrory’s proposal, brand new teachers will make as much as those with 5 or even 7 years of experience.
Experience counts in teaching. Most new teachers really don’t get their feet under them for about three years — and even then they do better when an experienced teacher provides mentoring support for them in their new career.
It’s true that some experienced teachers might get a pay raise, but it comes from our legislature’s preposterous mandate that school districts only extend four-year contracts to a mere one-quarter of classroom teachers. To entice teachers to take this questionable deal while their colleagues are left in employment limbo, these teachers are offered $500 a year. That’s $42.00 a month for 48 months. Not exactly a compensation package that would make a dent in the expenses of a family of four. And it still leaves a number of experienced teachers looking for other options.
As a parent, I want my child – and all children – to have teachers with experience. While I applaud every new entrant to the field, I don’t think it’s wise to assume that a slew of inexperienced newbies will be able to deliver the same quality and wisdom that our veteran teachers do. It’s bad for education and it’s bad business in general.
The employees at my old company soon felt disrespected, undervalued and unappreciated by those at the top. One by one, they left for greener pastures, just as many of our teachers are already leaving for other states. In three years, that once thriving company was completely gone.
Our kids deserve the value that comes from having experienced teachers. Let’s make sure they get it.