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Investing In Good Teachers Pays Big Dividends

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Teaching is one of the few industries in America where the link between performance and pay is unrelated. A great teacher who happens to be young gets paid much less than a mediocre teacher who has been around for decades. If we want to see better results in our schools, we need more flexibility on how we hire, reward, and retain great teachers. 

Discussion Questions

  1. What qualities do you look for in a great teacher?
  2. Why isn’t a teacher's pay more closely aligned with student achievement?
  3. How can we encourage our teachers to constantly improve?
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America used to be among the best-educated nations in the world.

Unfortunately we’ve slipped way down the rankings. If we could improve our students’ educational outcomes, they would add trillions more to the US economy during their lifetimes. Per student spending in American schools has quadrupled since 1960, but gains in test scores haven’t improved much at all.

So what gives?

In general, American teachers AREN’T paid based on how well their students learn. Instead, they’re paid based on how long they’ve taught and what credentials they’ve acquired.

This means a great teacher who happens to be young gets paid much less than a mediocre teacher who has been around for decades.

If we want students to excel, we should be spending more on good teachers and be open to removing bad teachers from our classrooms.

For every year a student has a great teacher instead of an average one, their lifetime earnings increase by more than $14,000. For a typical classroom, that great teacher is generating a quarter of a million dollars in future earnings every year!

If we want to see better results in our schools, and ultimately grow our economy, we need more flexibility on how we hire, reward, and retain great teachers.