$15,000 incentive for teachers?

Posted at: 01/11/2013 5:30 PM
Updated at: 01/11/2013 5:34 PM
By: Ray Levato

Governor Cuomo touched on many subjects in his State of the State address Wednesday. One was a suggestion to identify “master teachers” in schools and pay them $15,000 a year for four years if they mentor other teachers.
Governor Cuomo wants to pay the best teachers more money as an incentive to mentor other teachers to do better. He says there could be a master teacher in every school, but will that actually help students to do better?

Sherrill Moon is a 3rd grade teacher at Penfield's Scribner Elementary School, but she's not just any teacher. The PTA has recognized her as Outstanding Educator of the Year. So News10NBC asked her, is Governor Cuomo's suggestion to have master teachers in every school a good idea?

Sherrill Moon, 3rd grade Teacher, said, “On the surface, I think it sounds great because who wouldn't want to be recognized for good work and be rewarded. But beneath the surface I'm not so sure. Most teachers got into teaching for working with kids or having an academic content area specialty. And very few of them got into the position for its pay.”

Moon also fears the governor's idea would make the teaching profession more competitive.

Moon said, “Is it going to be a teacher who's popular with parents or the PTA? Is it going to be a teacher who has excellent test scores. Is it going to be a teacher who is popular with the administration? I think there's a lot of nebulous areas how you identify that teacher.”

Rochester Teachers President Adam Urbanski said, “It's a good idea. As a matter of fact, it's such a good idea that we have been doing this for 25 years now.”

But with important differences, the master teacher in the city still spends half of his or her time in the classroom with students. They earn a 10 percent stipend for their credentials and they are chosen by a panel of administrators and fellow teachers.

Urbanski said, “Now these are teachers who are master teachers. They get results.   It's very popular with parents and with new teachers.”

Moon said, “I think that such a large financial award as the governor is suggesting takes the focus away from kids. We need to be very collegial. We need to work together. We need to keep the kids in the focus. We need to have many teachers touch a kid.”

Governor Cuomo also wants to borrow an idea from law school and that's to have a bar type exam that every teacher would have to pass in order to get a job in a classroom.

The governor didn't get into details on where the money would come from for the master teachers in every school in the state. He also wants schools to extend the school day and school year, but again, the state faces a billion dollar deficit or more, so money becomes a sticky point.