Governor Seblius: Pay is Not All That Matters

It’s almost an article of faith among the general population, or at least the political population, that teachers are underpaid. Governor Sebelius caught our attention by some recent comments on the subject of teacher retention:

U.S. Department of Education survey showed one-third of teachers quit due to poor conditions, Sebelius said. They decried the lack of support from administrators, restrictions on how they run classrooms and few professional development opportunities.

“Pay is a factor, sure, and could we provide more salary and benefits, absolutely, but a number of other factors are more important, not the least of which is educational leadership and support,” Sebelius said.

Sebelius called the national survey results “pretty alarming.” They showed schools have a nearly 17 percent turnover rate.

The governor is onto something here. Pay is one factor in determining a job’s attractiveness. Working conditions are another.  As it is, government-run education is subject to rolls of red tape and special pleading by insiders of various sorts and outside constituencies. Due to the “one size fits all” nature of government, innovation is stifled, and something as basic as teacher pay is subject to rules that hamper individual effort.

The introduction of merit pay, tied with individual student assessments, would make it clear that results, not institutional niceties, matter. Something like the “100 percent solution” ought to be tried in a district with courageous leadership. It’s time for some change.

Source: Gov. Sebelius says teachers need support, KC Community News, April 18

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