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Combat pay

Taking a break from my trip report to talk about a news story that appeared in the Orlando Sentinel back in May:

Carver Middle School is an F rated school in the middle of the Pine Hills neighborhood, located west of Orlando, in Orange County. This school’s students tested in the lowest 3 percent of all students nationwide. In order to correct this, Orange county is attempting to lure the best teachers in the state to the school by offering an extra $20,000 a year to teachers willing to work there.

The problem is that the school is in a crime ridden, poverty stricken neighborhood. I have blogged about Pine Hills and its surrounding neighborhoods before. More than once. The school is 91% black, 6% Hispanic of any race, and less than 1% white. Seventy percent of the students receive free or reduced lunch.

Both the violent and non-violent crime rates in Pine Hills are double the national average. Police officers are shot and killed in the area of this school often enough that several streets in the area are named for fallen officers, and shootings happen there nearly every night. The local government repeatedly dumps millions of dollars into this blighted area in an attempt to “clean up” the crime problem, to no avail.

Currently, the teachers there are inexperienced first or second year teachers who transfer away at first opportunity. Teacher pay is tied to student performance, and combined with the crime in the neighborhood, teachers avoid the area like the plague.

Any teacher who accepts a job at this school is placing his or her life in jeopardy. A $20,000 bonus is not worth it, in my opinion. The plan likely will not work and be a waste of money, anyway. You cannot, no matter how good of a teacher you are, teach a student who does not want to learn. The crime problems need to be addressed, the gangs eliminated, the drugs under control, before you can convince the students to give up the thug lifestyle and learn.