Dr. Hans Andrews is the Distinguished Fellow in Community College Leadership through Olney Central College in Olney, Illinois. He is a former president of the college. He also served as Dean of Instruction at Illinois Valley Community College and Vice President for Community and Student Services at Kellogg Community College in Battle Creek, Michigan. He was an adjunct teacher for Illinois State University and a business teacher-counselor in two secondary schools.
“A recent RAND survey of teachers who voluntarily left teaching during the pandemic found a full 64% of respondents said their pay wasn’t sufficient to merit the risk or stress. Offering more competitive compensation is an important strategy for both retaining current teachers and recruiting new ones.” – Tara Kini: Chief of Staff an Director of State Policy at the Learning Policy Institute
While teacher shortages continue to grow across the United States and numerous other countries very few if any new proposals have come forward. Almost every study done has pointed to the low salaries of both entry level and experienced teachers as a major contributing factor.
An educational crisis
An educational crisis is a crisis of capability; the only resolution is learning and transformation. Individually, we experience these quite often, when more is asked of us than we can give, the only solution is to learn, to grow, and to develop new capabilities.
There is no doubt that teacher shortages, has created such a crisis. Our pipelines that had been relied on for many years are no longer able to keep up with the need. The universities as the major pipeline for these years, is failing to keep up and has dropped over fifty percent of the graduates in teaching over the past ten years.
Bonding may offer the quick fix needed now
School bonds are like home loans and/or corporate and business bonds. Bonding allows the schools to spend money when needed and then the bonds must be paid back over a designated period. Schools in the U.S. and some other countries already use bonding to build or rebuild school buildings. It has been noted that when school districts approve bonding they must pay back the bond money and some interest to those investing. This is done over a specified time, i.e. five to seven years.
A former state senator told this author that legislative bodies have been reluctant over the years to consider ‘bonding’ for salaries. While this was undoubtedly true in the past the same legislative bodies did not to face the growing teacher shortages that now exist.
Bonding for buildings
Qualified School Construction Bonds in the United States:
Created under Section 1621(a) of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA)
This program provides limited financial bonding for school districts to fund the rehabilitation or repair of an existing public school facility, construction of a new public school facility, equipment associated with repair or construction.
Since the bond proceeds can be used for building rehabilitation and repair, districts will be able to issue these low-to-no interest bonds in lieu of Fire Prevention (health, life, and safety) bonds that would be at a higher interest rate.
A proposal to add Teacher Salaries Adjustment Bonds
This proposal would provide school districts the ability to raise teacher salaries to a level competitive with other professional careers. It will also give school districts the ability to draw upon the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) to make necessary salary adjustments that will help rehabilitate the classroom school climate across the schools. It can also help end the ‘crisis’ presently leading teachers to take early retirements and/or leave the profession.
These adjustments are to allow schools to issue bonds at low-to-no interest as is allowed in the Qualified School Construction Bonds for rehabilitation of professional teacher salaries in a parallel manner as is done in the repair of or building new public school facilities.
Bonding for Salaries
Reasons for considering bonding for raising the salaries of teachers across the countries
- No other known proposal has been offered to date that would get this off of dead center.
- Almost every study done on why teachers leave the profession or do not decide to enter the profession focuses on salaries at the top or very near the top of all studies.
- Salaries continue to lag behind most other professions with the same education levels.
- Teachers leaving earlier now than expected (a.) Retirement; (b.) moving to other professions
- The gap in shortages will grow severely after the recent years of the pandemic; teachers are worn out, feel less respected, and see no end to the low salaries on the horizon.
- A new bonding law or expanding the existing laws would give every school district the same opportunity to bond to meet their particular needs.
- Schools with very adequate salaries may choose not to bond; rural and inner city school districts appear to have the most pressing need to bond to move salaries up to a professional and competitive level for present teachers and new teachers coming out of the pipelines.
- The bonding for school improvements or new school buildings would not be possible for many school districts without the legislation that was passed to allow for it in many countries.
Comparative outcomes for Bonding for Buildings and Bonding for Salary Adjustments
Bonding for buildings example
Bonding for a new building at $5 million U.S.; one year later building completed; five years later bonds paid off with interest; in the sixth year bonding for another new building $7 million; 16 months later building completed; five years later bonds paid off.
Bonding for buildings outcomes
- Two new buildings exist for staff and students.
Bonding for Salary Adjustments Outcomes example
Bonding for salary adjustments $5 million; five years later salary adjustments bonding paid off with interest; in the sixth year bonding for salary adjustments $6 million; five years later bonds paid off.
- Teacher salaries become competitive with other professions Early teacher retirements slow down dramatically
- Students have quality certified teachers in every grade level and all subject areas
- Teachers regain pride in themselves and their profession
Bonding: A proposal worth pursuing
The above proposal provides an addition way for countries to consider a new way to fund the teachers’ salary adjustments that need to be made has been outlined for consideration. This should be considered as a means of addressing an educational crisis as was outlined at the top of this article. A longer range solution should also be worked on that will allow school districts to move out of bonding for the salary adjustments for teachers over time.