Among the issues in the showdown between the Hinsdale High School District 86 Board and our high school teachers’ union is the matter of the teachers’ salary schedule. The board wants to eliminate it. The teachers want to keep it.
A carefully crafted schedule is a hallmark of a strong public school. It accomplishes several important objectives. First, it keeps teachers from hopping from school to school, helping to maintain a stable teaching force. Second, it provides a fair, equitable set of incentives for teachers to continue their education in their area of expertise. Third, it mitigates nepotism and cronyism by setting parameters for hiring and salary. Fourth, it provides incentives for experienced teachers to remain within the professional community, mentoring younger teachers, developing curriculum and providing continuity within the school. Finally, it protects the community from the vagaries of a system in which the boss changes every two years with every School Board election.
Public education with its volatile political climate, responsibility to educate all students and community accountability should not be confused with the governance of a private school with its hand-picked students or the experimental nature of charter schools. These are very different beasts.
I can live with well thought-out changes in the details. But eliminate the schedule? No way. It’s a foolhardy move that tramples on years of accumulated wisdom about how to provide our community with the best teachers possible. This board has no business seeking its elimination.