3/09/2008

$125,000/Year Teaching 5th-8th Graders

Zeke Vanderhoek, a 31 year old Yale graduate, received approval from the New York State Board of Regents to open a new charter middle school in 2009. What makes this school different is the way it pays its teachers. Teachers will receive a base salary of $125,000 plus bonuses based on the students and the schools performance. Mr. Vanderhoek believes that the high salaries will bring in the best teachers and which will directly correlate to better educated and better performing students. This is an experiment that he believes will serve as a model for other schools in the future. To make sure this project has control students will be admitted through a lottery system weighted to under performing children. Article

After reading the article I continued to read the various reader comments and found a large number of people becoming upset and accusing Mr. Vanderhoek of treating education like a business. Several comments claimed equitable funding for all schools is a better option but gave no explanation why they felt that way. According to my logic if we break down all the variables in education we will find it looks like a business with inputs and a system producing outputs. We hope the final product is a well educated student. So why can't business principles be applied to elementary education with the market determining the demand and prices for teachers? Teachers always complain about being underpaid and parents always complain of a lack of quality educators. So let's see if Mr. Vanderhoek has something here. If Mr. Vanderhoek can bring in better talent by increasing demand he will be able to have a more qualified pool of educators with the idea of creating a better output. This would also put greater accountability on the shoulders of Principals and Education Boards if their schools and districts underperformed and extreme praise if it works. I may be naive to how school districts operate now but treating it more like a business sounds like a good idea to me.

3 comments:

binoculars said...

This is what free market is all about. When government tries to interfere with things, it makes things worse. However, if things are run without government intereference (like how capitalism is suppose to work), it improves our life sooner or later. This reminds me of Adam Smith's "invisible hand."

Grace said...

Whenever you make it mandatory for people to comply, you will end up with a mixture of mediocrity and excellence. This is evident in the public school system. Children are required to attend school, thus we have a mix of children who want to be in school and put forth the effort to excel as well as children who are there solely to occupy a seat and satisfy the government. I mention this because I see this as part of the reason why we have “under-performing children” in the public school system. The quality of the teachers is definitely part of the equation, but you have to take into consideration the students’ motivation levels as well.

All said, I too agree with Binoculars and Reagan about running the school system as a business. (Of course, I’m a business student!). Allowing the “invisible hand” to guide the school system could prove quite beneficial and turn the system around.

Dr. Tufte said...

-1 on Reagan for poor grammar.

I'm not sure how good an idea this is. I think the pay has to go along with firing the teachers that don't work out. Problem is, I'm not always sure how to measure whether or not a teacher is working out.