The Business Insider recently published an article touting a compensation system called for in a report issued by Michelle Rhee’s organization, The New Teacher Project (TNTP). The report cites that 90% of the school districts in the United States use a “lockstep pay system” that suppresses entry wages and long term wages. This is true… but not because of the pay system. It’s true because the limited amount of funds available for salaries. Changing the pay system will only increase sallies at both ends of the spectrum if more money is applied. The only way to compensate teachers more with the same amount of money is to have fewer teachers. The TNTP proposed solution?
The report calls for schools to compensate teachers based on performance and offer bonuses for instructors at high-need schools and critical subjects.
Ah yes… merit pay, bonuses for “high need schools”, and teachers in “critical subjects”. This is a new and innovative idea?
As for the article, it is full of misinformation. First and foremost, is states that “…teachers are paid the same whether they work in high- or low-income schools”. this is clearly wrong: the pay scales for teachers who work in affluent districts are markedly higher than those who work in districts that serve children raised in poverty. Secondly, it assumes that graduates who enter teaching are motivated by money, which is not the case. Those who enter teaching want to make a difference in the lives of children, not make a million dollars a year. Third, the folks who are arguing for this kind of pay scale are simultaneously arguing that taxpayers should pay less and/or the total compensation for teachers is too high and/or “tenure” should be eliminated…. at least Michelle Rhee has made some or all of these arguments elsewhere. Finally, as noted above, implementing a pay schedule like the one recommended in this essay would ultimately cost the taxpayers MUCH more if all else remains equal… and the way to make things different from the way they are now would be to reduce benefits and pensions and/or increase class sizes. Sorry, Ms. Rhee, your study is lacking in both new ideas and a grounding in reality.