A radical way to boost student achievement in the nation's capital deserves support.
This fall, public schools across America are experimenting with teacher pay incentives to improve student achievement. The extra dollars, though, mostly amount to lunch money compared to a radical proposal in Washington, D.C. – upwards of $100,000 in salary and bonuses.
With Washington's middle schools the worst performing of the nation's urban districts, the city's warrior-like school chancellor, Michelle Rhee, is calling for a revolution. Other cities should watch closely. Drastic nonlearning calls for drastic measures.
Studies show that a good teacher is the most effective way for a school to boost student academic progress – more than first-class textbooks, more than class size.
Ms. Rhee believes her high-pay offer, to be funded from private foundations, can attract a higher caliber of public school teacher altogether, and weed out underperformers.
To receive the pay – which is more than twice the $47,602 average teacher salary in America – the city's teacher union must give up tenure and seniority work privileges. Tenured teachers would be on probation for one year, with their performance measured by student achievement. That's a game-changer by breaking the decades-long bargain in which taxpayers have financed mediocre pay for teachers in return for relative job security.
The vast majority of public schools have a "single salary" plan that differentiates pay on two criteria: years in the classroom and degrees held. But it turns out that seniority and degrees don't necessarily translate into higher student achievement. Could mediocre pay be producing mediocre teaching?