Board of Education member defends teacher salary move

Board of Education member defends teacher salary move

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KNOXVILLE (WATE) - State Board of Education member Mike Edwards says Tennessee teachers are underpaid and he calls pay-based performance "a better way."

Edwards was part of the board majority that voted in favor of changes to the state's minimum pay structure for teachers.

It would not reduce teachers' current salaries.

The move cuts the number of annual raises for experience and education levels. It's designed to give districts flexibility to offer pay incentives.

Edwards says there's no evidence that getting a Master's degree in education, not in specific a subject area, makes a better teacher.

"That automatic bump was not effective in getting students to achieve more, so what teachers are getting paid the same amount whereas they would get that bump by going and getting a Master's now they will get that bump by performance in the classroom," he said.

Edwards also points out that counties are still getting the same amount of education funding and can still decide to pay teachers by the old schedule.

Tennessee's teachers union opposed the change.

State Rep. Gloria Johnson, who is a teacher herself, has also spoken against it. She put out a statement saying the move would, "shortchange students by undermining our ability to attract the best and brightest educators to our state for years to come."

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