Bonus Statement

The Metro Nashville Education Association (MNEA) has this statement regarding the awarding of $5000 bonuses to first-year teachers in “priority schools.”

MNEA has contacted MNPS leadership with the following concerns about the recent decision to give $5000 bonuses to new teachers at priority schools:

First, we are deeply concerned that veteran educators who have chosen to work in priority schools for more than one year did not receive this compensation. The message this bonus sends is that new employees are more valuable than those with experience. In some cases, the $5000 bonus for beginning teachers means they are now earning more than teachers with more years of experience at the same school. This is deeply troubling, especially since the more experienced teachers are often charged with mentoring new teachers, which increases their workload for no additional compensation. Quite frankly, many current employees of priority schools feel this is a slap in the face.

Secondly, we strongly believe that it would be beneficial to the district to inform MNEA of any initiatives that involve changes to compensation ahead of time. Learning about this initiative from the news after it had already happened did not allow for proactive feedback at our end. We have heard from many angry employees about this issue, and we feel overall the bonuses have done more harm than good. As Dr. Majors reminded the Board of Education at last night’s meeting, the best recruiters are current employees. We want to ensure that MNEA is able to give the district feedback from an educator perspective, as we feel this will lead to better workplace morale and make recruiting educators easier.

In addition, we are also worried that this bonus was given in one lump sum at the beginning of the year. It is statistically very likely that a number of the first-year teachers who received this bonus will either leave before the year is out or will not return next year. They will take that bonus with them while at the same time veteran teachers will see nothing for their dedication to stay. In addition to making sure that all employees at priority schools are rewarded for their dedication to serving our students with the greatest needs, any bonuses should be given out at the middle and end of the year, to ensure the bonus is actually earned before it is given.

In conclusion, we have asked what steps the district will be taking to reward veteran employees who have chosen to remain at priority schools. After all, it is unlikely that priority schools will make academic progress without not only recruiting but also retaining the professional educators who are charged with doing the work of making sure that every student succeeds. These veteran educators not only have more experience and tools to teach, but they have built the lasting relationships with students and their families that are required as a foundation for academic success. It is in the best interests of our students to make sure they have equitable access to veteran employees.

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