Friday, March 09, 2007

Bill to improve math, science teaching loses pay provisions

Friday, March 9, 2007

Bill to improve math, science teaching loses pay provisions
KEA opposed salary differential
By Tom Loftus
The Courier-Journal

FRANKFORT, Ky. -- A bill that is a top priority for Senate Republicans -- aimed at improving math and science teaching -- was approved yesterday by a House committee but only after it removed provisions to boost pay for top teachers in those subjects.

The budget committee sent to the House floor a new version of Senate Bill 1. It retains many of the original provisions, including cash incentives to schools to begin advanced-placement courses.

But gone from the bill is language that would authorize pay increases of up to $10,000 a year for the best chemistry, physics and calculus teachers -- an incentive that would be based on scores achieved by their students on advanced-placement tests.

The committee took no action on a second Senate priority bill, which would have raised the salaries of chemistry, physics and calculus teachers who get top scores on teacher-certification tests.

That bill, SB 2, is stuck in the budget committee, which plans no more meetings this session.

Sen. Ken Winters, a Murray Republican and sponsor of the bills, said he hopes SB 2 and the deleted parts of SB 1 can be revived in a conference committee that will reconcile differences between the House and Senate versions.

"Until the conference activities are over, you never give up on anything," Winters said.

Rep. Frank Rasche, a Paducah Democrat who is chairman of the House Education Committee, said the provisions giving additional pay for science and math teachers "had to come out" or the bill couldn't have passed the House.

Those provisions were strongly opposed by the Kentucky Education Association, the state teachers' union.

KEA President Frances Steenbergen said the organization believes salaries should be based on levels of experience, education and professional training "but not on the subject" being taught.

Rep. Harry Moberly, D-Richmond, chairman of budget committee, said he supports differential pay for teachers of subjects such as math and science, where the demand is great but the supply short. However, he said House Democratic leaders would not let the bill move without the KEA's support.

Besides providing cash incentives to schools to start advanced-placement classes, the current version of SB 1 also would pay the fees charged students to take advanced-placement tests.

Reporter Tom Loftus can be reached at (502) 875-5136.

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