Most Madison teachers will get a good raise

2014-06-05T05:00:00Z Most Madison teachers will get a good raiseWisconsin State Journal editorial madison.com
June 05, 2014 5:00 am  • 

The president of the Madison teachers union just lamented an “embarrassingly low” wage increase for his members of 0.25 percent.

But that doesn’t include automatic pay raises most teachers will receive for their years of experience.

A large majority of Madison school teachers (in past years it has ranged from two-thirds to three-quarters of educators) will get longevity raises averaging between 2 percent and

3 percent, according to the district.

Add that to the 0.25 percent and the real raise for most Madison teachers will be about 10 times more than advertised.

In addition, a smaller group of teachers will get extra pay for completing higher education coursework toward advanced degrees. And under the district’s new contract for the 2015-16 year, teachers who supervise certain extracurricular clubs as well as those who take on work related to special education can earn more.

Madison Teachers Inc. executive director John Matthews called the 0.25 percent figure “a real potshot at teachers.” But that’s a narrow slice of compensation intended to downplay the district’s generosity.

In fact, some School Board members said this week they hope to increase raises for everyone after state aid to schools becomes clear.

A total hike in pay of 2 percent to 3 percent sounds pretty good to most private-sector workers. That’s well above inflation.

Madison teachers have had to contribute more to their pensions since Gov. Scott Walker strictly limited collective bargaining for most public workers. MTI and others have fought Walker’s law in court, allowing a local contract to continue.

The pension contribution offset some past pay raises for Madison teachers. But now teacher paychecks have recovered, and the Madison district — unlike most districts in the state — still isn’t requiring staff to contribute to health insurance premiums.

Madison teachers ratified their latest contract this week, despite their union leader’s complaints.

Beyond pay, the contract wisely removes outdated hiring restrictions. The district now will be able to consider external candidates for open teaching positions at the same time it considers current teachers who want to transfer into those jobs. The change should help boost the diversity of Madison’s teaching staff and draw more talent from other districts.

Ideally, the Madison district would move to merit pay for teachers, with principals basing increases on performance.

That said, most Madison teachers work hard at inspiring our children. And most, under the latest contract, will receive a solid raise.

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