Give teachers incentives to take on at-risk kids

info@islandpacket.comAugust 4, 2013 

Reading the recent story about a proposal to place master teachers in classrooms of at-risk children strikes me as a short-sighted remedy. Surely, those students who have fallen behind in their grade level skills are on a course toward dropping out.

After nearly 30 years of teaching, I feel qualified to make some suggestions based on my observations.

First, I think the master teachers should be offered an incentive to make the switch. Pay a stipend of up to $10,000 per year and keep classroom size to about 10 students. If they choose to stay where they are now, hire qualified staff from outside the county for the same package. Advertise in other states and counties.

Second, mathematics skills are too crucial to entrust to classroom teachers above third grade. Certainly, there are strong math teachers at the elementary level, but they are all generalists. Children will struggle to catch up with just one year under a poorly skilled math instructor. We need to hire math specialists as early as third or fourth grade.

These are just a few stratagies. Is the program expensive? Compare it with prison expenditures.

Bill Smith

Sun City Hilton Head

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