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Teacher Salaries and Tax Increases

June 6, 2012

In Metro/Davidson County, we are currently going through a major budget approval process in which the mayor has proposed a budget that requires a 53 cent property tax increase.  Last night was the second reading of the budget, and the public turnout both for and against, was huge.

One major portion of the budget goes to a nearly $50 million increase in spending for the schools.  This increase would cover much-needed capital improvements as well as a well-deserved pay raise for teachers.  It would, in fact compress the salary schedule for all teachers and raise the starting pay for teachers in their first five years to $40,000.  When I spoke in favor of the budget, I chose to focus on this important point.  Here’s what I had to say:

Hi, my name is Ashley Croft and I am a middle school teacher in MNPS.  I also am a member of Stand for Children here in Nashville.  I’m here tonight to tell you my story as a young teacher in this district.  As you hear it, please understand that this isn’t just my story–there are hundreds of beginning teachers just like me.

When I graduated from Vanderbilt in 2008, I was recruited to teach by systems like Chicago Public Schools and rural Marlboro County, South Carolina.  I knew that I wanted a challenging, rewarding teaching experience, and these places promised it to me.  I never once thought of applying to MNPS, and it’s by a stroke of luck that I ended up teaching here.

However, every year around this time, I begin looking again at other districts, perusing their job postings.  I know that I need a higher salary to support myself, and I can’t have that here.  I currently teach full time, work for an after school tutoring company, and sell clothes at a retail store year-round to support my family of one.

Although I consistently look at jobs in other parts of the state and country, its my love for my students and their families that has kept me here.  That won’t work for everyone.

This is my story, and you should remember that there are hundreds more like it.  However, many of the outstanding, passionate teachers who have stories similar to mine aren’t in Nashville to tell you about it.  They are changing the lives of students in communities like Sumner or Williamson County or cities like Memphis, Denver, Houston, Atlanta, and Chicago.

MNPS has done its part to attract and retain effective young teachers by revamping the recruiting process and creating opportunities like the Teacher Leadership Institute of which I am a part.  It’s time that the city do its part to show teachers that Nashville values us.  Offer teachers a fair starting pay and we can continue to move Nashville forward.

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