New Newsworks Column: Here's What's Wrong with the Way We Pay Teachers

It starts here:
As children and district staff head back to school this week, policy-makers and educators continue to wrangle over a host of educational, political, and fiscal issues.

One item is not on our debate agenda but should be: N.J.'s archaic method of awarding salary increases to teachers and other school staff. It's a merit pay scheme without merit.

Almost every school district in N.J. adheres to a rigid salary schedule that rewards teachers for two factors that have nothing to do with student learning: seniority and additional graduate courses and degrees. This mindless distribution system has a significant impact on overall teacher effectiveness and district budgeting. Thomas J. Kane, an economist at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and director for the Center for Education Policy Research, told the Wall St. Journal that "paying teachers on the basis of master's degrees is equivalent to paying them based on hair color." Across the U.S. "master's bumps" -- extra pay awarded to teachers who earn M.A.'s -- cost schools and taxpayers $15 billion per year.
Read the rest here.

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