The Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee heard yet another education reform bill this morning, this time one that would create bonuses for math, science and special education teachers working in middle schools and high schools.
Proposed by State Sen. Mike Carrell, R-Lakewood, Senate Bill 5278 would offer bonuses to teachers deemed “experts” by the state. The bonuses, paid in a lump sum, would be equal to 10 percent of the teacher’s base salary.
Committee Vice Chair Bruce Dammier, R-Puyallup, said the bill could be a good way to lure promising scientists and mathematicians into teaching. But Jerry Bender, spokesman for the Washington Association of School Principals, said the bonus isn’t high enough to provide a real incentive. He opposed the bill, arguing that Washington schools have no difficulty in finding qualified math and science teachers.
“You want to have key people in all your roles,” Bender said. “And my experience is if you start hiring early, if you pick the fruit early in the season, there are good hires out there.”
Schools have a harder time finding speech therapists and retaining special education teachers, said Lucinda Young, a lobbyist for the Washington Education Association. She said state money would be better spent reducing class sizes and providing more classroom support to special education teachers. Young also argued that the state shouldn’t favor certain subjects over others.
“I think we would all agree that every single [subject] is important,” Young said.