SC Teacher pay comes under scrutiny

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Teachers' take home pay is coming under scrutiny. South Carolina schools chief Mick Zais says teachers' salaries should be based on their effectiveness in the classroom, not their seniority or post-graduate credentials.

For teachers like Georgia Holley, teaching isn't just a job, it's a calling. She teaches advanced classes at the Scholars Academy in Horry County and says when she heard about the idea of her pay being tied into her student performance, she wasn't convinced it's the ticket success. "In my heart I believe we should be paid for the work that we do and the accomplishments and gains, but after many years of looking at this issue, I just can't understand a realistic way that we can measure that growth," says Georgia Holley.

The state's first Republican schools superintendent in 12 years wants to move teacher and principal salaries into a mandatory pay-for-performance system. A proposal moving through the House, and backed by GOP legislative leaders, could direct Zais to develop such a plan implemented as early as 2012-13.  Zais told The Associated Press during an interview last week that the state's best teachers should be paid much more, while inferior teachers should be tossed.

Spadoni College of Education Interim Dean Dr. Ed Jadallah says its a reality our state could face in the future. He questions how you can accurately assess every teacher in every classroom nationwide and say that's like comparing apples to oranges.

"It does not adequately or in a valid take into consideration all of the extraneous variable that take place in the context of the classroom. I'm talking about social variables, developmental variables, a variety of variables that exist within the context of a class that can't be measured by one standardized assessment," says Ed Jadallah, Ph.D.

Supporters say strong, competitive teachers will help give us the fighting edge we need to get all of our schools up to par, but how finding a way to fairly asses a Math teacher with an Art teacher or Drama to Science.

"I teach a program of gifted student and it really wouldn't be fair to compare test scores from mine to say a poverty area who doesn't have the same resources as Horry County Schools. So I can't find a realistic way to do that," says Georgia Holley.

But like everything else, this measure comes with a price tag - and right now lots of people don't think it's the time to make this type of education reform.

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