Legislators took up yesterday the topic of erosion of Arkansas’s standing in teacher pay and, particularly, the growing gap in beginning pay among the school districts. It’s a vicious cycle. The poorest districts pay the least. The poorest districts tend to fall on the lower end of performance charts. The poorer districts have the hardest time recruiting good new teachers. There are exceptions to all general statements, of course.
The map above gives a quick look at the beginning pay gap. Note that Pulaski County school districts, among the state’s wealthiest, don’t score at the top end of beginning pay. Their pay scales are more rewarding to veteran teachers. Holding good people in education and rewarding them is a defensible strategy if there’s meaningful evaluation and good performance is expected. High pay for entering teachers is also defensible, if only the best qualified reap the rewards and judgment is sound on whether untested new teachers are worth the outlay. Both propositions inspire robust debate.
The data includes statewide comparisons of the school districts.