From a retired high school teacher’s viewpoint, I am commenting on the articles regarding the idea of attracting the highest quality teachers to teach in underachieving schools in this district.
For 33 years, I taught in low-achieving schools in New Mexico and Kansas, as well as in high achieving schools in suburban Denver.
Believe me, it is not just a matter of hiring a terrific teacher to step into a dysfunctional classroom and turn things around.
Perhaps the district should adopt best practices that work in chaotic schools, i.e., uniforms, required parent involvement and absolute total support from the school administration.
No matter how enthusiastic, knowledgeable or caring a teacher is, when he stands before a class filled with disinterested, disruptive students with poor attendance and poorer study habits, he has little chance to turn underachievers into high achievers who miraculously will fill out college applications and speak the king’s English.
One solution that has worked, but is expensive, is hiring two teachers per room of reluctant learners.
Two professionals, along with a classroom of no more than 20 students are part of a recipe for success. Simply being a fine teacher does not change the culture or community that does not typically value education.
Finding ways to encourage all children to love learning is a challenge, and there are no simple answers.
Regarding teacher pay in South Carolina, I have Googled teacher pay in private schools and wealthy suburban areas and have found something surprising: in the Cherry Creek district outside of Denver, teachers start at several thousand dollars less a year than here; likewise, teachers at Sidwell Friends, where Obama’s daughters attend, start at lower pay than they do in Aiken County. So, it is not higher salaries for teachers that will help graduation rates.
However, if we look at the Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta, we might very well find the answers for school success.