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Teaching

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The Myth of the Teacher Pay Gap

Teachers are not underpaid; they are underemployed. Almost everyone, including legislators, agree that teachers do not make enough money. But why are they not working as much as other occupations? Teacher compensation comes in two types: base compensation, which is the pay that all teachers receive, and incentive compensation, which results from additional training or on-the-job performance. In almost all states, teacher pay is driven by a salary schedule based on years of service and academic credits obtained. Nothing in the compensation system rewards teaching excellence. This type of structured compensation system was installed in the 1920s “to ensure equal treatment for all.” No other profession operates this way. The current teacher compensation system is broken and needs to be Read More ›

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Student loan concept. Young woman with stack pile of books and piggy bank full of debt rethinking future career path
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Teachers Miffed About Pay

“I am a fool to do this job.” So states one teacher in the PDK Poll as reported by EducationWeek. The comment reflects the fact that teacher compensation is the number one complaint of the teachers polled.  In fact, of the 556 teachers polled, 55% of teachers said they would strike for higher compensation. As we reported on this issue previously, most of the angst comes from unfulfilled promises by strong arm teacher union politics.  Because of unions’ unrelenting support on seniority pay raises and lifetime job security, hundreds of new teachers and central office staff are laid off, class sizes increase, and after-school programs fail. This is bad for everyone, including taxpayers, new teachers who are in dire need Read More ›

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WANTED: New-fashioned Way of Producing Teachers

One article in a recent Education Week popped out of the page: “After Career Overhauling Ed. Schools, Levine to Step Down, Foundation head known for lambasting teacher training.” The article refers to Arthur Levine, president of the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, who will now remain at the foundation in a senior fellow role. The strong title is well deserved. Levine came to the position with the intention of either fixing the existing model of teacher preparation or “reinvent[ing] it.” He has been recognized for “spearhead[ing] several initiatives designed to improve the preparation of educators.” In 2006 he stated teacher-prep programs were “unruly and disordered, they’re treated as a cash cow by universities.” His views parallel those of Don Nielsen, Read More ›

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Make Teaching Eye-Catching

“How many of you can recall one teacher who made a positive difference in your education and, perhaps, in the person you have become? Almost every hand in the room would go up. I would then ask, how many of you can remember two teachers who made a positive difference in your life? About half the hands would go up. I would then ask, how many of you can recall three such teacher? About 10 percent of the hands go up.” Don Nielsen, program chair to the American Center for Transforming Education of Discovery Institute and author of Every School, poses the questions above in many of his speeches on education. The response should make us question why, as a Read More ›

frau liest kindern in der schule etwas vor
frau liest kindern in der schule etwas vor
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How to Maintain High-Quality Teachers

Don Nielsen underscores the critical role of teachers in his book, Every School: “Quality teaching yields quality learning for students.” The enormous influence of teachers on a range of student outcomes has become even more clear in the last decade—an influence only slightly less than that of parents. Yet with the extensive variability in teacher quality within schools, it’s not easy to provide students with access to high-quality teachers. So how do we produce and maintain high-quality teachers for public schools? Three issues are paramount: selection and preparation, placement and working conditions, and compensation for teachers.   As Nielsen argues, “Professionals in areas of law, medicine, engineering, etc., are carefully selected prior to being accepted into a college program. They Read More ›

Teacher woman in stress or depression at school classroom
Teacher woman in stress or depression at school classroom, children or students driving her crazy.
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Certified Is Not Qualified

In a guest blog for the Christensen Institute, Ben Kutylo, Co-Founder and President of Fremont Street, writes of the importance on teaching and rethinking the education system with teachers as the focal point.  Discussing a study done last September, Kutylo states, “authors interviewed teachers to discover what motivates them to adopt new approaches to instruction.” He notes that “teaching is the most important factor impacting student learning. Besides parents, educators know students best.” The American Center for Transforming Education shares Kutylo’s aim to improve the quality of our teaching corps. However, the blog neglects one of the biggest issues with our current teachers: the way we select and train our teachers. Kutylo argues that “change efforts [should] start with teachers—rather Read More ›

Jackson Mississippi Skyline
Jackson, Mississippi, USA skyline over the Capitol Building.
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Overworked, Underappreciated, and Underpaid?

In Mississippi, where public schools continue to struggle, the House of Representatives has raised teacher pay on average by $4,000, starting in 2020. However, the final approval reduced the increase to $1,500 in the first year of the raise. It is now up to the Governor to approve or veto the raise for the state’s public school teachers. In Jackson Free Press, author Ashton Pittman outlines the situation at hand: “Mississippi ranks near the bottom for teacher pay nationally, and the legislature consistently underfunds education. That has led to an exodus of teachers from the state, creating a growing teacher-shortage crisis.” Undoubtedly this is a significant issue and it surely is hurting Mississippi’s children. But what if there was a Read More ›

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Flags blow in the wind after night falls on the state capital grounds in Austin
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Inputs vs Outputs

Sadly, K-12 education all too often focuses on measuring inputs rather than measuring outputs. However, Texas may soon change this archetype.  A new proposal in Texas’s state legislature shifts the focus to rewarding school districts with stronger outcomes. In an article on Education Week, staff writer Daarel Burnette II states, “Texas is proposing to, in effect, flip that model on its head by spending more money on districts that meet certain state standards and less money on those that don’t.”  Discovery Institute’s American Center for Transforming Education is attentive to education developments in Texas, as the state’s desire to improve education makes them a good candidate for implementing many of the other education reforms we recommend. As Don Nielsen points Read More ›

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Florida is Taking Education Head On

A crucial education bill is brewing in the Florida Senate. As noted by Emily L. Mahoney in the Tampa Bay Times, the Senate intends to have the policy “filed as one, large package bill by the first week of the legislative session, which [began] March 5.” The bill is significant because it provides a framework for how to reform K-12 education to achieve greater effectiveness. Three key highlights outlined in the article are of great interest to Discovery: The Family Empowerment Scholarship creates a new school voucher intended to reduce the list of low-income children awaiting the existing tax credit scholarships. However, to make vouchers work, there needs to be excess capacity in the school system. In other words, high-quality Read More ›

Quality Teaching Yields Quality Learning for Students

The only shortage facing the U.S. in education is quality According to the Bellwether Education Partners report there is no “national, generic teaching shortage.” Instead, authors Kaitlin Pennington McVey and Justin Trinidad, suggest that “Shortage rates are highest in schools serving low-income students and students of color and in subject areas that include mathematics, science and special education.” Students cannot learn from teachers who don’t know their subjects. This is especially true in math and science. Unfortunately, the current school system creates great teachers only by accident, not by design. This reminds us of the Norm R. Augustine statement before the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Science: “About two-thirds of the students studying chemistry and physics in U.S. high schools are taught by Read More ›