How Arkansas aims to boost teacher quality and gender equity

The education reform bill signed by Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders, LEARNS actwould make big changes to public schools that would please conservatives and perhaps make the governor a serious vice-presidential candidate. By increasing to $50,000 annually, LEARNS could have a significant impact on both teacher quality and gender equality.

That’s because today public schools across the country are still taught by women and supervised by better-paid men.

These traditional gender norms reflect the history of public schools. one of us said,boys become principalsIn the 1800s, both teachers and principals tended to be women. One reason was that people thought women were better suited to work with children, and that school boards could do better by paying less to women. is.

In the early 1900s, that changed, but only in leadership. Progressive sought to professionalize educational leadership in larger, bureaucratic schools led by qualified principals and superintendents. At a time when “pro” meant “male,” this meant the gradual replacement of female principals and superintendents by males.

Kate Rothmaniere saysprincipal’s officeThe new field of athletic coaching has attracted men to public schools and provided a clear path to principals and superintendents of education. Reformer. ” today, 53 percent of male principals are former coaches, three times as many as female.

The masculinization of public administration was bolstered by graduate programs in educational leadership that offered (sometimes dubious) eligibility for promotion to far more men than women.

As a result, as Rousmaniere points out, number of women Public school leadership has declined for most of the last century, with women’s share of primary school principals dropping from 55% in 1928 to 20% in 1973. 99 percent were male. For generations, it was taken for granted that women would teach and men would manage.

Even in a more enlightened 21st century, data from the 2012 National School and Staffing Survey show that “boys become principalsshowed that 90% of primary school teachers are female, while only 66% of supervisors are female. In secondary schools, women made up 63 percent of teachers and 48 percent of principals.

With big teacher pay raises and no leader pay raises, Huckabee Sanders is upending part of its history and having a major impact on gender equity. the current, more than half Few Arkansas public school principals make less than $50,000 a year. Reflecting the history of public school education, about three quartersArkansas Teachers — But less than one third Superintendent – Female.

Raising state minimum teacher salaries not only promotes gender equity, but also regional and economic equity. The teachers most likely to benefit from the increase are: concentrate on A poor, typically rural area of ​​Arkansas where schools often suffer from teacher shortages. The proposed minimum teacher salary increase could help alleviate the hiring challenges facing these school districts by allocating additional resources to schools and students who need it most.

Huckabee Sanders’ reform also addresses the quality of teachers that the traditional educational reward system has eroded. Discrimination used to severely limit career options for college-educated women and minorities. A constrained labor market allowed school boards to pay teachers peanuts — and they did.

Discriminatory labor practices have declined since the 1970s, but teacher salaries have not kept pace, making it difficult to hire good teachers. We and one of his colleagues, Jonathan Wai, said:Why America’s education policy and practice lacks intelligence and what can be done about itThe percentage of high school graduates in the top 10 cognitive deciles in teaching has declined from about a quarter in the early 1970s to about a tenth in the early 2000s.

Daughters of female teachers went on to other, more respected and lucrative fields. A $50,000 starting salary, combined with a long summer vacation, could bring talent back to some of Arkansas’s public schools, where they need it most.

Of course, raising the minimum wage for teachers won’t completely address gender pay equity or teacher shortages, but it will certainly make a big difference. This should be celebrated in states and countries desperately in need of improved education.

Robert Marant He is the 21st Century Chair of Leadership for the University of Arkansas School of Education Reform and a former Board of Education member. Josh Magee He is the Associate Director of the Office of Education Policy at the University of Arkansas and a faculty member of the School of Education Reform. The opinions expressed here are theirs alone.


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