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Monday, April 07, 2008

Teachers as CEO

The following is a commentary with commentary. The original in bold was submitted by Susan Uchitelle on KWMU 90.7 in St. Louis on March 17th. My comments appear in italics

Last week the New York Times reported that a New York City Charter School, due to open in 2009, intends to pay teachers as much as $125,000 per year in an effort to improve student achievement outcomes. $125,000 a year for a teacher! Now that is real money.

As opposed to Monopoly money that they are normally paid. Honestly, after cost of living adjustments that is only like $74,000 which is thirty grand more than I make now. That’s a nice raise, but I am not sure if it reaches the threshold of reality.

The school’s creator believes that attracting the best teachers and paying them for achieving significant student academic improvement may be a way to improve educational outcomes.

There’s a novel idea. Attracting good teachers will help students. I have also found that attracting good students helps test scores. Mayor Bloomberg pays the kids just for showing up. We should raise standards and only pay them if they pass the test.

And of course, this big money is squarely based on quantifiable academic results.

Through carefully controlled experiments scientist have been able to isolate the effects of teachers from the effects of poverty, parents, peers, low pressure systems, and the price of tea in china.

Since research indicates that teacher quality is the major component for student success, then how does a school attract the most competent person to put into the classroom?

I got an idea! Throw money at them like they are cheap edu-hookers. We are not particularly fond of respect.

CEO’s of major corporations are to be paid based upon the earnings of the company (not that this is always the case), so why not try that model in schools?

As was so nicely parenthetically pointed out CEOs get paid despite earnings. If we keep this up we can Enron the school into the ground. Cook the test scores, use creative scoring, do a little insider grading then bail leaving the students ignorant and our pockets stuffed with the aforementioned real money.

I consider teachers as CEOs.

With, I assume all of the inherent authority. As CEO we should be able to fire someone for lack of punctuality, gross incompetence, failure of a performance review, failure of random drug tests, insubordination, and gender.

“As the new CEO, I would like to take this opportunity to announce massive layoffs, rollbacks, and reductions. Effective immediately anyone with more than one year experience at any grade level needs to clean out their lockers and go home.”

They are the ones that make a difference. All schools, including ours in this metropolitan area, need to attract the most competent and highly qualified teachers. Yet the salaries that teachers earn make it extremely difficult to attract the most competent when they can earn three to four times as much in law, business and other entrepreneurial enterprises.

You may also want to include the metal detectors at the door, the barrage of curses hurled at us daily, the lack of support from parents and the community, the twenty minute lunch, and the lack of a luxury box at Busch Stadium.

So let’s give it a try. Cut out middle level administrators, decrease activities that really do not really matter,

Yeah like band. I mean who needs band. It’s just a bunch of people that couldn't make a sports team. While we are at it lets cut all extracurricular activity. I mean they are getting enough enrichment at home.

and hire the best and the brightest at high salaries and promised bonuses based upon results.

Bring on the rainmakers baby.

It may be one of the most valuable experiments for American education today.

So let’s stop wasting time with those experiments in psychology and neuroscience. Halt all research into educational strategies. Let’s dangle money in front of a bunch of recent college grads and measure how high they can jump.

Since we are trying so hard to reverse the trend of poor performance in the St. Louis Schools this would be a wonderful place to start and in the least successful school. We see if such an experiment would make the difference. We certainly have nothing to lose

Except for real money. They already tried this with Teach for America which only proved that you can indeed get highly unqualified people to take the money and run.

and everything to gain for our children.

Oh, it’s for the children. Why didn’t you say so? I mean if you had said it was for the children up front I wouldn’t have wasted my time responding. I mean, I believe children are the future. You’re right it’s for the children (and the real money.)

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