Friday, June 5, 2009

Experimenting w/ high pay for top teachers

From today's NYT, an article about a new charter school in New York testing out the concept of high pay ($125k plus a possible bonus up to $25k) to attract top teachers:

The article notes that the premise of the school is that "excellent teachers- and not revolutionary technology, talented principals or small class size- are the crucial ingredients for success." It describes the teachers who were selected after a nationwide search to start at the school.


Anonymous said...

There is so much work to be done where the issue of incentive pay is concerned. First off, $125K is a nice figure, but if we are truly concerned about the state of our children, about their education and futures, it simply isn't enough. This is especially true if you are going to conduct a "nationwide search" and in districts where the top administrators already make the same amount, if not much, much more.
Secondly is the issue of how this will be determined. If a teacher is being placed at a school within a community of caring parents and people who value education, it would follow that raising scores or garnering higher achievement may not be as worthy as a teacher who is placed within a community that is rife with parents who either just aren't there or don't care. Communities where careers in drug trafficking seem to be the best option. Communities where the poverty level is higher than in most other neighborhoods.
Show me the determining factors and show me the benchmarks and I will be a proponent of merit pay. Show me that a teacher who has squeezed slight improvement out of poor perennially poor achieving kids and continues to bring gradual success to his or her classes equates with the teacher who makes remarkable strides at the school where gifted kids go and then I'll buy in.

You see, our last administration scapegoated teachers. So does this one (and for the record, so would have McCain). Few government types wish to say publicly that education begins with caring, supportive parents who understand its need. Incentive/Merit pay is simply another idea that comes from those in the ivory tower, from those NOT in the kinds of classrooms described here, the kinds who wish to tell the public that ALA's are places of high academic achievement.

Questioner said...

The school described by the article is made up of mostly poor, low achieving Hispanic students, so it should be a good test case. Interestingly the principal and founder will be paid only $90k, less than the teachers.

PPSparent said...

The one encouraging part of this scheme that I found was that they actually went to classrooms and watched the teachers teach.

Too many programs recently have either been conceived and implemented by people with no classroom experience (or very little) or in the case of Teach For America intent on putting people with only a few weeks of training in classroom management (and everything else and little or no teaching experience) into high need classrooms.

TFA expects them to leave and go on to law school or med school or the like or into administration. At least this program is emphasizing teachers with experience, rather than implying that teaching well is something any smart person with a college degree can just up and do well.

All the other stuff though (long hours, little staff, the ways that charters can "discourage" students they don't want and get them to leave, etc.) doesn't impress me.