Give us $100,000-a-year teachers*

The Chicago Tribune recently ran an article about teachers in the state who earn $100,000 a year. Most of them, as you might expect, are in wealthy suburbs of Chicago.

The Tribune ran into some grief from the teachers union, and the paper ran an editorial that’s worth reading. The board said it’s happy to have $100k teachers–but only if they’re the right kind. Here’s an excerpt:

We’ve argued countless times that teacher pay should be based on performance, documented against measurable standards. In Illinois, it’s based largely on longevity.

Our agenda is excellence in education. You can’t achieve that without excellent teachers, and you can’t attract and keep excellent teachers unless you pay competitive salaries. Illinois taxpayers understand that.

Our agenda is to shatter an education status quo that resists installing clear performance measures for teachers, that resists expanding the number of innovative charter schools, that resists competition. A $100,000 teacher who can demonstrate excellent gains by her students has earned her keep.

You can read the whole thing here. A companion editorial reminds us of some of the benefits of being a teacher, including job security, little or no required travel, a liberal leave policy, summer vacations (or if you will, the ability to have a significant amount of time that’s self-directed, even if it is in fulfillment of various official requirements), and retirement benefits. It concludes, “It’s often said no one gets rich as a teacher. Yes, no one gets chief-executive rich, or pro-athlete rich or movie-star rich. But you can do very well as a teacher, compared to the broader work force. There’s nothing wrong with that. And there’s nothing wrong with expecting teachers to demonstrate through performance measures year in and year out that they deserve what they make.”

Now, I understand there are problems with subjectivity in evaluation, favoritism, and factors outside the control of the teacher. But isn’t that true of many jobs, especially the professions? I’m also aware that test scores don’t reveal everything, and that there are methodological problems with using student scores to evaluate teacher performance. All this, however, doesn’t mean that “time on the job plus the number of post-college credits” should be the sum total of what determines teacher retention and pay.

The Commonwealth of Virginia, for example, is moving towards using student academic progress as part of the process of evaluating teacher performance.

The says,

Virginia’s weak teacher accountability provisions are getting a fresh look.

According to plans presented to the state Board of Education on Thursday, new guidelines would require evaluations to consider student growth as a “significant” factor.

Current law only requires evaluations to be conducted every three years and does not tie them to pay.

For more on teacher pay in Kansas, see this page, which is under development.

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