Saturday, June 04, 2005

Honor Thy Teacher

Interesting proposal to help poor students in the US by Matt Miller.

Consider this 'grand bargain.' We'd raise salaries for teachers in poor schools by 50 percent. But this offer would be conditioned on two major reforms. First, the unions would have to abandon their lock-step pay scale so that we could raise the top half of performers (and those in shortage fields like math and science) another 50 percent. Second, the unions would have to make it much easier to fire the worst teachers, who are blighting the lives of countless kids.

In many big districts, salaries start around $40,000 and top out, after 25 years, around $75,000. Under this plan, starting teachers would earn $60,000. The top performing half of teachers (and the shortage specialties) would average $90,000. The best teachers would earn up to $150,000. With the amount they could save, the best teachers of poor children could retire with $1 million in the bank.

A move on this scale would change how teaching is viewed by college students who are deciding how to spend their lives. We'd finally be acknowledging the massive 'subsidy' schools lost once women were free to enter other professions after the 1970's. And there are environmental benefits, too; if a young couple thinks they could jointly earn $250,000 as teachers, we may well end up with two fewer lawyers!

This plan to make teaching poor children the most exciting career in America would cost roughly $30 billion a year. It's a 7 percent increase in the nation's K-12 spending, which would buy a 1,000 percent revolution in how teaching is viewed. Union leaders, superintendents and teachers have told me that while there are details to sort out, something like this could work. It could transform the teacher corps and its professional culture over the next decade.

Why can't timid Democrats put up the full $30 billion national plan against the G.O.P.'s plan to eliminate the estate tax, which would shower the same $30 billion a year on heirs in the nation's 3,000 wealthiest families?
I don't think it is the money per se that is important as much as it is the increase in social standing that comes with the higher income that will attract more teachers.

via New York Times

1 comment:

viral said...

would love to see something like this happen ... it seems that globally, we've had a hard time proving the 'value' of teachers (value as determined by the overall benefit to society) ...

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