Friday, July 11, 2008

Economist on Rhee's tenure-salary swap plan

The Economist (the DC Education Blog's favorite magazine) reports on Chancellor Rhee's plan to offer teachers a hefty pay raise in exchange for tenure.
Ms Rhee is thrashing out a deal with union leaders that would raise teachers’ wages dramatically. Starting salaries would leap from about $40,000 to $78,000, and wages for the best performers would double to about $130,000 a year. In return, teachers would lose tenure and be paid according to merit, measured in part by their students’ results. Current teachers would have a choice: they could join the new system or stay in the old one. New hires would have to join the new system. Over time, the quality and morale of teachers in Washington should soar. “Imagine the kind of talent the hard-pressed system could attract,” drools the Washington Post.

But wouldn’t all this require a huge expansion of the school budget? Perhaps not. The current system is staggeringly inefficient. The city employs an army of educational bureaucrats and has twice as many schools as it needs. It pays to heat and air-condition some schools that are only a quarter full. Insiders reckon that, within a few years, the new pay deal could be wholly financed by cutting waste. And in the short term private donors are willing to shoulder much of the cost.

The plan’s boosters call it revolutionary, in that it applies to public schools a principle—reward good work and you get more of it—that every other employer has known for centuries. But it will be still-born if the Washington teachers’ union does not agree to it. Local union leaders rather like the idea of higher pay, but the big national unions are appalled at the notion that any teachers might give up tenure. Fearing an unwelcome precedent, they are leaning on the local union to kill the deal.


Hall Monitor said...


Anonymous said...

I teach at a restructuring school, and so can be dismissed at any time for seemingly any reason, so I am hardly worried about losing tenure, since I don't really have it, and the union has made it pretty clear they aren't going to fight for teachers anyhow.