In Hawaii, and much of America, teachers get paid by how many years they’ve worked.  They start at the bottom of the pay scale, and every year their pay goes up automatically.  So imagine if teachers gave grades in the same way they were paid. In kindergarten, all kids would get an F. By the first grade, the entire class would get a D-minus. Second Graders would get a D, and third graders would have a D+.  Fifth-graders would all get a C, and so on, until in the 12th grade, every student would have an A-plus!  It would look like this:

Kindergarten F
1st Grade D-
2nd Grade D
3rd Grade D+
4th Grade C-
5th Grade C
6th Grade C+
7th Grade B-
8th Grade B
9th Grade B+
10th Grade A-
11th Grade A
12th Grade A+

It seems silly, but that’s exactly how we pay teachers. New teachers are paid the least, and senior teachers are paid the most, no matter how they perform in the classroom.

Some teachers feel safe with that kind of job security – survive for two years, and you’ve got tenure. But not me. I’m a good teacher, but when it comes to my pay, I’m getting an F!

I believe that good teachers like me are being underpaid.  Imagine a new teacher who was really great. Perhaps she made learning fun – kids were dying to come to school! Maybe she helped to bring students’ scores up two or three grade levels. Maybe she taught the kids to think for themselves; to think creatively. Teachers like that deserve to be paid double, or even more! Perhaps a teacher like that could make $100,000. Unfortunately, in our current system, a teacher like that is paid the lowest amount a teacher can make.

I also believe that some teachers are overpaid.  I’ve seen many teachers who have been in the system since the dawn of time.  They think they’re teaching, but their class is sleeping.  In a soviet style of education like we have in America, quality means nothing, and seniority means everything.

I want to get rid of all the bureaucracy in education. Get government out of the classroom. Give principals the power and freedom to adjust pay, and you would see a new market for excellence in education. Teachers would strive hard to please principals. Principals would demand only the best teachers in the schools. And parents would be banging the principal’s door down to get their kids in that school. And our children would benefit with an outstanding classroom and a brighter future.

My name is Joe Kent, and I’m running for Congress in the State of Hawaii, because I believe our educational system is broken. As a teacher for seven years, I’ve seen the monster of government invading the classroom. Government ties teachers’ hands behind their backs. It traps principals at every turn. And it allows bullies to harass good kids in the classroom.

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