Education

Ga. School Districts Pay Teachers More For ‘Critical’ Fields

An Education Reform Commission, appointed by Gov. Nathan Deal last year, recommended paying teachers more for 'critical needs' subjects, like math and science.
An Education Reform Commission, appointed by Gov. Nathan Deal last year, recommended paying teachers more for 'critical needs' subjects, like math and science.
Credit Martha Dalton / WABE

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It’s a safe bet that most teachers don’t enter the profession to get wealthy. Still, some school districts have tried to entice teachers to take hard-to-fill jobs by offering financial incentives.

For example, the Fulton County Schools offered signing bonuses this year to teachers willing to work in “critical needs” areas. Those include math, science, special education and foreign language teaching jobs, as well as positions in schools with low-income populations.

But it’s unclear whether that approach is an effective long-term solution.

“I think the incentive pay is enough to help to get potentially new teachers in the door, but thinking about long-term sustainability, you have to think about the supports that are put in place once the teachers get there, especially new teachers,” says Dana Rickman, director of policy and research at the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education.

Rickman says those supports should include training, resources and a positive school climate:

“Certainly, I think as a profession, we need to look at what we pay teachers. But the long-term sustainability of this is I think not in just incentives or bonuses, but really looking at the culture of the schools and how we think about the profession of teaching.”

Georgia issued its first-ever school climate ratings last spring.