Change the salary schedule!

Christian Science Monitor has an article out on changing the structure of teacher pay (hat tip Abner Oakes tweet), which discusses giving bonuses for various incentives such as improving student performance or working at a high-poverty school. I have some more ideas.

First, as long as districts follow a salary schedule, teachers should get one-for-one credit for teaching in other districts; i.e., they should be given credit for teaching five years if they have taught five years when being hired at a different school district. Not giving one-for-one credit unfairly eliminates them from changing districts—they get “locked in” to a particular district after teaching for only a few years since they would have to take a pay cut to move to a different district. This elimination of competition between districts is bad for teachers. Only the wealthiest districts currently can lure experienced teachers by giving one-for-one credit since most districts do not. Let’s even that playing field.

Second, tenure needs to be much, much, MUCH! harder to get. It should not be automatic but should be something to work toward like at the college level. Professors apply for tenure going through an arduous process. I recommend the same for K-12 teachers.

Third, first year teachers should have a reduced teaching load to go with their lower salary. (I’ll expand on this idea in a post later this week.) As they gain experience and ability, they should gain responsibility, recognition and salary.

Fourth, non-performing teachers should be fired.

A more flexible salary schedule with teachers applying to move to different teacher levels equivalent to college’s instructor, assistant professor, associate professor and full professor would be a hybrid system between a strict schedule and open negotiation.