Sunday, March 13, 2011

What if teacher pay started higher?

Gadfly's Mike Petrelli offers an idea about compensation that really works best with his illustration:
Basically, the idea is here is understanding how long it takes for people in different professions to reach their peak earnings.  Doctors and lawyers moving up quickly to nearly 100% of their career peak and then staying at a plateau with little variation.  Teachers, in contrast, only get to their top pay level just before they can retire.

Petrelli makes a rapid case that it would be better for the teacher curve to look more like the others. That wouldn't be flat pay for all years: it would have a couple of steps as teachers passed key milestones that go with rising effectiveness. But it would mean a teacher who had gotten a solid mastery of classroom practice would move up more quickly in the early years.  In exchange, the peak years might not go as high, but total compensation for a career would be the same.

I think there's an idea here that could have benefits, and it's more like the way McKinsey & Company say the world's best-performing nations organize compensation.  What's harder for  me to imagine is how an American school system to move smoothly to this model.

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