Giving teachers their due
study by Harvard and Columbia University economists found that a good teacher — measured by how well their students improved in terms of test scores — imparts lifelong benefits.
Using data on 2.5 million individuals over 20 years in a large urban district in the United States, the researchers concluded that students of so-called high “value-added” teachers are more “likely to attend college, earn higher salaries, live in better neighborhoods and save more for retirement.” Conversely, the same study also found that having a poor quality, low “valueadded” teacher could set back a student by up to US$250,000 in lifetime earnings.
Interestingly, a 2013 Thomas B. Ford Institute report concluded that assigning more students to an effective teacher can at times be better than keeping classroom sizes smaller as per conventional wisdom.
Of course, the report was based on modelling and theoretical simulation using teacher and student data from North Carolina, rather than look at actual instances. Nevertheless, it was reasonably demonstrated that transferring up to 12 students to a top-performing teacher could result in “learning gains” that are equivalent to an extra two and a half weeks of teaching.
Another US study in fact found that a year’s worth of teaching from a top 10-percent teacher could give students up to three times as much knowledge and instruction as they would with the bottom 10-percent.
In short, teachers play a singularly important — if not the most important — role in ensuring the quality of education our students receive. That only makes it imperative and essential for our government to provide all the support it can muster for our teaching pool.
In fact, our government has lent this support in recent years, with a round of salary increases for teachers in public primary and secondary institutions. Teachers in tertiary institutions also benefited from these increases, but since 2013, around 35,000 of them — or roughly 70 percent — haven’t been able to receive the job promotions due them.
Currently, the rules and regulations governing faculty promotions in state universities and colleges (SUCs), teacher education institutions (TEIs), and other higher education institutions (HEIs) fall under National Budget Circular (NBC) No. 461 jointly issued in 1998 by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED).
Through the years, NBC 461 has been implemented in roughly threeyear cycles. Cycle 7 covering job promotions for 2013 to 2016 has yet to be allotted any budget due to an apparent moratorium by the DBM, pending certain updates and regulations’ revisions it has required from the Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges (PASUC) and CHED. PASUC and CHED have said that the revised guidelines will be submitted by 2019. Our rules and regulations always need improving. But the job promotions and other long overdue benefits for our teachers should not be held up by our bureaucratic procedures. That’s why as vice-chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, we recently pushed for the allotment of ample funds in the 2019 national budget so that SUC teachers could finally get the promotions they deserve. The job promotions and the corresponding pay increases constitute the best monetary reward our government can muster for our teachers’ outstanding performances. These incentives also serve as extra reasons for our teachers to stay in their respective universities, rather than be lured by more lucrative opportunities elsewhere. Ultimately, by giving our teachers what is due for the singularly important role they play, these job promotions and pay increases help improve the quality of our public higher education.
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Senator Sonny Angara was elected in 2013, and now chairs the Senate committees on local government, and ways and means.