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On Thursday, the Center for American Progress released Financial Incentives for Hard-to-Staff Positions, a report on teacher pay that draws lessons from fields like government, the military, medicine and private industry. The report offers very valuable analysis of the kinds of incentives that might coax effective teachers into hard-to-staff schools.
Yet it also disappoints in a couple of respects. For one, it offers little information about effective pay-for-performance structures in other fields. (It will hardly end acrimonious debates between supporters and critics of performance pay). It also minimizes the importance of other strategies for ensuring poor and minority students access to the most effective teachers and administrators.
Among the points that caught my attention are these:
A few observations about the last two points--
Other critical elements include effective school leadership, better working conditions, stronger professional support, better preparation, more efficient hiring and placement policies, greater policy coherence, and--yes--funding based on student needs. If we're serious about ending staffing inequities, we must attend to all these areas.
The Center for American Progress report waxes pragmatic when it argues that "none of these factors is as easy to modify in response to changing circumstances as pay." Is this pragmatism self-defeating?
Let's hope policymakers can set their sights on more than just compensation as they seek solutions to grave school staffing challenges. Even they can suffer from the soft bigotry of low expectations.
Update: Teacher Ariel Sacks offers an assessment of CAP discussions of hard-to-staff schools.
[Image Credit: www.houserabbit.co.uk]
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