My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.


This is At Least An Attempt At REAL Education Reform 

In case you missed this, from last week's NewYorkTimes:

A New York City charter school set to open in 2009 in Washington Heights will test one of the most fundamental questions in education: Whether significantly higher pay for teachers is the key to improving schools.

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.

And, of course, real ambitious reform comes from the charter school realm.

But, more interestingly, this could spark some of the most clear-headed educational discussion in the last forty years. IF this school, which will primarily serve low-income, at-risk students, shows remarkable success, then suddenly the argument that higher teacher pay has an impact on performance is almost irrefutable.

On the other hand, it also begs for the argument to be made that the market has to start dictating teacher pay. This school is willing to pay heftily for their teachers, but they're only going to hire teachers with a proven track record of success. So, if the school doesn't have really strong candidates, will it lower its pay structure?

Anybody out there in the real world is probably saying "duh. of course it will." But that sort of thinking is anathema to the teachers' unions--their brand of collectivism dictates that everybody gets the same pay based on non-performance issues like education and survival rate.

If this experiment works, you would have to picture a day when principals are given a certain budget for personnel, and then they can hire whoever they want within their salary cap. It would give principals and schools the freedom to decide just what sort of school they want to be, based on their hiring practices. And that COULD be a very good thing.

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