Friday, March 7, 2008

So where do you think that the best teachers are going to go?

To the New York Times, this is an open question. The title on their article asks: "Would six-figure salaries attract better teachers?" Obviously, higher salaries mean that more teachers will apply for the jobs. The schools might not select the best teachers (public schools might hire people based upon tenure or political views or whatever. Charter schools have more of an incentive to pick the best teachers, though not as much as a private for profit operation would. From the Times:

The school, which will run from fifth to eighth grades, is promising to pay teachers $125,000, plus a potential bonus based on schoolwide performance. That is nearly twice as much as the average New York City public school teacher earns, roughly two and a half times the national average teacher salary and higher than the base salary of all but the most senior teachers in the most generous districts nationwide.

The school’s creator and first principal, Zeke M. Vanderhoek, contends that high salaries will lure the best teachers. He says he wants to put into practice the conclusion reached by a growing body of research: that teacher quality — not star principals, laptop computers or abundant electives — is the crucial ingredient for success.

“I would much rather put a phenomenal, great teacher in a field with 30 kids and nothing else than take the mediocre teacher and give them half the number of students and give them all the technology in the world,” said Mr. Vanderhoek, 31, a Yale graduate and former middle school teacher who built a test preparation company that pays its tutors far more than the competition. . . .


Some express doubt:

Yet the model is raising questions. Will two social workers be enough? Will even the most skillful teachers be able to handle classes of 30, several students more than the city average? . . .


As someone who has taught for many years, I think that a good teacher can accomplish a lot with a bunch of bureaucrats being around. If the teacher doesn't work, the key is being willing to replace them with someone else.

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