Peabody Education Dean supports our plan for raising teacher pay

The Dean of Education at America’s number one school for teachers has given a whole-hearted endorsement of the Metro Schools plan to raise starting teacher pay.

In an open letter to Director of Schools Dr. Jesse Register, Dean Camilla Benbow of Peabody College at Vanderbilt University said she supports Metro Schools increasing the starting pay for teachers. The proposed salary schedule has starting teachers making $40,000, existing teachers receiving raises ranging from 1.9% to 8.2%, and all teachers reaching the top levels of pay in just 15 years rather than 25. This endorsement joins one from the Metro Nashville Education Association (MNEA).

You can read the full letter below, or click the link at the bottom of this post to see the letter itself.

If you’d like to join Dean Benbow in supporting the starting teacher pay increase, you can show your support by writing or calling the Metro Council and by coming to Council’s meeting on Tuesday, June 5.

Dear Dr. Register,

I am writing you in support of the MNPS effort to increase the starting salary of Nashville Public School teachers.

While teachers unions, policy-makers and the public can find much to disagree on when it comes to how to pay teachers, there’s little disagreement when it comes to the simple matter of a threshold, starting salary. A higher starting salary attracts more candidates and allows a district to be more selective in its hiring practices. This translates to more effective teachers for Nashville’s students. As you know, Peabody College prepares teachers drawn from a national pool of applicants. These students enter Vanderbilt with SAT scores far higher than what is typical  among schools of education nationwide. Based on their potential, it is certainly in Nashville’s interest to encourage these prospective teachers to remain here to begin their teaching careers. But at less than $35,000, the current MNPS starting salary for a beginning teacher with a bachelor’s degree is lower than the national average (approximately $37,500 in 2009-10 dollars), and well below the starting salaries in many of the urban areas from which our students come. We would love for more of our students to stay in Nashville and contribute to education in our community.

Polling data that Vanderbilt collected last fall suggest that the public would also be supportive of high starting salaries. Of 1,423 Tennesseans polled, 71 percent said that public school teachers in Tennessee were underpaid. Respondents ranked education as the No. 2 priority for state government. Perhaps now is the opportune time to initiate a salary increase.

Finally, I would add that not only would a higher starting salary help with teacher recruitment, it is also likely to help with retention. With nearly half of teachers leaving the profession in the first five years, a high starting salary, or increases in salary for early career teachers, may incentivize some to stay. Similarly, shortening the amount of time required for teachers to reach the top of the salary scale will enable MNPS to retain more of its experienced teacher workforce.

In short, we support MNPS’s proposal to increase teacher salaries. A favorable outcome is in the interest of Nashville’s children.

Sincerely,

Camilla Benbow
Patricia and Rodes Dean of Education and Human Development

See the Letter of Support from Peabody Dean Camilla Benbow

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