Rewarding Teachers

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As a former teacher, I’m all for giving more money to hard-working teachers. But here’s a news flash: Good teachers deserve higher salaries than bad teachers.

That might seem like a no-brainer. But it’s heresy among teachers unions. Teachers' unions (search) insist that paying teachers according to their track record would be something akin to slavery.

Now, it hasn’t always been like this. Before most teachers became unionized in the ‘60s, they were organized in professional organizations, much like doctors and lawyers. And like other professionals, teachers’ salaries reflected their qualifications and their teaching records. But since the unions took over, merit pay (search) — paying teachers according to the quality of their work — has been considered too competitive.

One union leader in New York says merit-pay plans “pit teachers against each other instead of encouraging a collaborative school culture.” This kind of thinking is driving the best and the brightest out of teaching. A recent study from Harvard (search) shows that the number of smart teachers is declining, while the number of not-so-smart teachers is increasing. Why? “The primary reason for this startling decline in teacher quality…is the elimination of financial rewards for talent.” (Source: City Journal)

Rewarding talent. Now there's a thought!

And that’s the Observer.

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