Teacher Compensation Software

As the years passed, my job extended from technical writing into software design, testing, and user support. I liked the design part best. The process, greatly simplified, worked like this:

  • I listened to what the users said they needed a piece of software to do.
  • Then I devised statements of user requirements from which code could evolve.
  • I would mock up the user interface and
  • turn it over to the programmers, who would often jeer politely, then offer suggestions for implementation that was actually possible.

In 1988, the RCN was stable enough that NEA's research department decided to revisit the venerable teacher salary software. The mainframe salary software needed to be converted into something the field staff could take with them to the bargaining table. Since personal computers were appearing on everybody's desk, NEA decided to detach the salary software from the network and create a stand-alone program for use on the IBM-PC DOS platform.

The PC technology didn't sit quite right with Brad. He had to learn a new programming language--C--and he moaned and groaned about it for several days. The dearly allocated and husbanded system resources of computer memory and ticks of the central processing unit didn't seem to matter in the PC world. I daresay that such perceived negligence came as close to insulting Brad as anything I ever witnessed in this unruffleable person. If I had actually been listening to his complaints, I might have been alarmed and felt that I had to fix it for him. As it happened, however, Brad soon talked himself out of his horror and got on with business.

I would often hit the wall when writing pseudocode or designing screens for some requirement. As willing as Brad is to talk, he is an equally agreeable listener. His shining moment came 24 hours after I posed the problem of getting a computer to compact a salary schedule (a.k.a., salary scale, pay scale).

Teacher salary schedules are (or at least used to be) constructed on a framework of training and experience. The more experience you have as a teacher, and the more training you obtain, the higher your salary. You get a certain amount of additional money each year you teach and even more if you get yourself additional smarts by adding hours of learning to your bachelor's or master's degree.