My initial reaction to this story [on Christie's plan to cap superintendent salaries], other than choking on my chocolate-covered soy nuts when I read that the Camden Schools chief makes $239K (!!)– was that maybe salary caps are a good idea in places like New Jersey, where corruption in public education makes the dysfunction of Jersey Shore look like a children’s show. There was a bit of a back-and-forth in the world of Fordham email, something like this:
Terry: Markets work on this front and I don’t like the idea of caps.
Me: Maybe I’m too hooked to the storyline of The Cartel, but some supes in NJ make in the $400s and this is just ridiculous! It’s public money.
Terry: Is the best way to address this a cap for all supers no matter the challenges? I’ll admit $400k seems ridiculous but do taxpayers vote for these salaries locally? I’m having trouble with the idea of the state setting the market value for district leaders.
Me: Yes… but when you have salaries this ludicrous some kind of measure (maybe not a cap) seems necessary. Set an initial cap and then give $75K or $100K in bonuses contingent on results.
Terry: Make cuts to the districts and then let the supers explain their salaries during times of cuts to the overall system.