NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Some Criteria for Paying Teachers

May 14, 2002

Most workers in the U.S. economy are awarded pay increases based job performance. And employers bid competitively for to services of hard-to-find specialists in response to the law of supply and demand.

But the National Education Association seems never have heard of such outlandish arrangements. The NEA -- the country's largest teachers union -- feels all teachers should be paid alike -- with raises based only on seniority or credit for advanced degrees, neither of which guarantees better teachers.

Here are some options being suggested for reforming teacher pay policy to enhance teacher quality. They're contained in a forthcoming report from the Progressive Policy Institute, a centrist Democratic think tank

  • Pay more to teachers who demonstrate superior knowledge and skills by linking salaries and bonuses to improved student learning.
  • Give high salaries to teachers stepping into hard-to-fill specialties such as math, science and special education.
  • Pay higher salaries to teachers in hard-to-staff schools in urban and rural areas.
  • Raise salaries for teachers who take on a school's most difficult challenges.

Breaking out of the present mind-set could produce dramatic improvements in teacher quality, according to the report, which advocates realigning the way that schools divide the $109 billion spent annually on teachers.

Source: Editorial, "Pay Teachers Their Worth," USA Today, May 14, 2002.

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