Quotes on Teacher Pay, Rewards & Tenure

"The abuses of endowments are flagrant, monstrous, and wholly inexcusable. But what funds, public or private, would not be a prey to malversation if the law took no notice of it; or if, though the law was what it ought to be, there was no individual whose interest and no public officer whose duty it was to put the law in force? There is surely nothing visionary in imagining these things remedied. It cannot be impossible, where there is the will, to prevent public funds from being diverted to private pockets. Nor can it be doubted that the variety of endowed institutions, and the influence of the State exerted within its proper limits, would ensure adequate provision for including in the course of education (either everywhere or only somewhere, according to the necessities of the case) whatever has any just claim to form a part of it. What is feared is, that the teacher’s duty will be idly and inefficiently performed if his remuneration is certain, and not dependent on pupils and their payments. The apprehension is well grounded. But where is the necessity that the teacher’s pay should bear no relation to the number and proficiency of his pupils? In the case of an ordinary schoolmaster, the fees of pupils would always be a part, and should generally be the greatest part, of his remuneration. In an university, or a great public school, even if the fees go to the collective body, it is not a law of nature that every tutor or professor should be paid neither more nor less than a fixed sum. Could anything be easier than to make the whole, or a large part, of his remuneration proportional to the number of those who attended his teaching during an entire term, or during a year? And would it be impossible that he should receive an extra sum for each of his pupils who passes a creditable examination, on leaving the institution, in his particular department? The real principle of efficiency in teaching, payment by results, is easily applied to public teaching, but wholly inapplicable to private school speculations, even were they subject to a general system of public examinations; unless by special agreement between schoolmasters and parents, which also is a thing we have no chance of seeing until the fashion can be set."

John Stuart Mill
The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume V
1869
Library Topic

"…teachers get paid roughly on par with other comparable professionals on an hourly basis and have much more time in a year to earn money beyond their salaries. This makes it politically difficult to justify higher pay for teachers even if their annual compensation is too low to afford average student debt because, on an hourly basis, they would have to be paid in excess of comparable professionals."

Neal McCluskey
Policy Analysis, No. 629
Cato Institute
December 15, 2008
Library Topic

"According to the BLS, the average public school teacher in the United States earned $34.06 per hour in 2005…. The average white-collar worker (excluding sales) earned $25.08 per hour, and the average professional specialty and technical worker earned $30.66 per hour. The average public school teacher was paid 36% more per hour than the average non-sales white-collar worker and 11% more than the average professional specialty and technical worker. Nationwide, public school teachers earn more than the average workers with whom they are grouped into categories by the BLS."

Jay P. Greene
Marcus A. Winters
Civic Report, No. 50
Manhattan Institute
January 2007
Library Topic

"Besides helping incompetent teachers keep their jobs, tenure also helps all teachers build up seniority, a very important consideration in teaching. Teacher pay is linked directly to years of service, and increased seniority gives teachers more say over where they will teach and who they will teach."

George A. Clowes
School Reform News
The Heartland Institute
July 1, 2003
Library Topic

"Few education topics elicit as much passion as teacher pay. In any discussion of this issue, one is typically confronted with emotional testimony about personal experiences of long hours and meager pay for critically important work. To be sure, there is some truth in these teacher responses. Many teachers undoubtedly do devote long hours, for what may seem far too little pay, as they engage in the essential work of educating future generations. Yet the personal testimony of a number of teachers as to their poor compensation is no substitute for systematic data. If we want to have a productive policy discussion about the appropriate level of public school teacher pay, we have to start with high-quality and systematic data—not emotionally compelling personal stories."

Jay P. Greene
Marcus A. Winters
Civic Report, No. 50
Manhattan Institute
January 2007
Library Topic

"Teacher tenure in elementary and secondary school has been part of the educational landscape since 1909, when New Jersey passed a law to protect teachers from the whims of autocratic principals and patronage allocating administrators. Until then, teachers could be fired for speaking up, questioning educational practices, or merely because an administrator wished to give the job to someone else for political reasons or nepotism. Other states soon followed New Jersey’s lead. Today, every state has a tenure law, although many use other descriptors to describe the policy such as 'fair dismissal procedures, continuing contract or service, permanent status, career status, and post-probationary status.'"

Joan Baratz-Snowden
Center for American Progress
June 2009
Library Topic

"Many people erroneously believe that tenure is a guarantee of a job for life. The simple truth is that tenure only means that a teacher gains permanent employment status after successfully completing a probationary period—usually three years of teaching—and may not be fired or disciplined without just cause and due process."

Joan Baratz-Snowden
Center for American Progress
June 2009
Library Topic

"Public educators also receive generous benefits, including 'defined-benefit' pensions that do not require any contribution from the teacher. A career teacher, without ever having to contribute a nickel, can normally retire at age 55 and receive close to 70 percent of his or her salary for life. There are hundreds of thousands of retired teachers drawing annual pensions of $40,000 or more — many young enough to begin second careers."

Frederick M. Hess
Policy Review, No. 124
Hoover Institution
April 1, 2004
Library Topic

"Today, just 5.5 percent of traditional public school districts report using pay incentives such as cash bonuses, salary increases, or additional salary steps to reward excellent teaching. Only five states offer retention bonuses to keep teachers in high-need schools. Meanwhile, the majority of teachers back differential pay."

Frederick M. Hess
Policy Review, No. 124
Hoover Institution
April 1, 2004
Library Topic

"It is also essential that we change how we pay teachers. We must pay them more, because without pay that is commensurate with other career opportunities, we will never attract enough of the best and brightest into teaching. But is also clear that we must pay them differently from the way we do now. In addition to better pay, we must move toward a better pay system. We should reward teachers not just for experience, but for the skills, knowledge, and, ultimately, the performance they bring into their classrooms. This goal requires that we rethink teacher pay systems to harness them to drive student achievement."

Bryan C. Hassel
21st Century Schools Project
Progressive Policy Institute
May 2002
Library Topic

"The current pay system is 'fair' only in a very limited sense. It is fair in that it treats people with similar levels of education and experience (within a state or district) similarly, regardless of irrelevant characteristics like race, gender, or their personal relationships with their principals. In other ways, though, it is grossly unfair. While it ignores irrelevant differences between teachers, it also ignores relevant ones, like their levels of knowledge and skills, their actual success with students, and the difficulties of the assignments they take on."

Bryan C. Hassel
21st Century Schools Project
Progressive Policy Institute
May 2002
Library Topic

"Traditional salary schedules, in which salaries are fixed by a district or even statewide schedule, provide teachers with pay raises according to their length of service and post baccalaureate educational attainment. But this pay system fails to account for differences in working conditions among schools; for higher demand for math, science, and special education teaching skills; for teachers of English Language Learners; and perhaps most important, for performance in the classroom."

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Commentary or Blog Post

"I asked Fulton County high school teacher Jordan Kohanim to write a piece about what she wanted for her students this year. Jordan joined forces with fellow Centennial High School English teachers Larken McCord and Cathy Rumfelt to write a powerful letter about their goals for their students and for all students. School resumes in Fulton County on Monday

Here is their combined effort....

"Citing a study that concluded some Minneapolis school administrators were underpaid, district Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson approved more than $270,000 in pay raises this summer for 35 central office administrators.

Johnson's announcement Friday surprised some school board members who said they weren't aware that their approval of a consultants' compensation study in May meant...

In the process of reporting on D.C. school superintendent Michelle Rhee’s plan to provide a huge pay increase to teachers who will voluntarily reject tenure, TIME engages in a small history lesson on the origins of tenure. Tenure originally started out as a form of profession protection for a small group of teachers, but over time, the process extended to...

"Between 2001-02 and 2010-11, average salaries in Park School District had the highest percentage increase (26.3%) followed by Poudre (17.9%) and Thompson (14.0%). The large increase in salaries seen in Park School District between 2005-06 and 2006-07 was due to an effort by the Park superintendent to recruit and retain educators in that district.

Teachers' base salaries are tied to two...

This article reports on the Obama administration’s plan to provide extra government funding for the purposes of teacher merit pay. Obama supports merit pay as long as the teachers who would receive it approve of it. Teacher hesitancy over merit pay often has to do with its linkage to student achievement, which causes teacher unions to suggest that merit pay should...

"Over skits and snacks Wednesday, hundreds of teachers from around the country got a soft sell from the U.S. Department of Education to become more open-minded about new pay and evaluation systems.

Wrapping up the first national summit among teachers' unions, school administrators and board members representing some 150 districts from 40 states heard glowing reports from districts that...

"So there I was, in late February, a lifelong, die-hard progressive DFL mom from Minneapolis, sitting in the governor's office with Rep. Branden Petersen, a die-hard conservative Republican dad from Coon Rapids.

We were there to see if Gov. Mark Dayton would consider signing Petersen's bill to get rid of 'last in, first out' (LIFO), a law that forces school districts to make teacher...

While many think that performance pay is a good idea for teachers, teachers unions like the NEA and AFT are slow to accept it. This article reports the NEA’s hesitant approval of the Obama administration’s experimentation with the idea. In general, this piece seems to imply that teachers unions will try ideas they are not in favor of, as long they are in favor of...

Given the seemingly low rate of pay that Oklahoma teachers receive, Neal McCluskey seeks to discover the true standing of Oklahoma teacher salaries in comparison to other states and also to other professions. His research on this topic led him to conclude that not only do Oklahoma teachers do as well, if not better, than teachers in many other states, but they also...

In the midst of hard economic times, Bill Zettler notes that the Illinois education system could help the financial situation by getting rid of the exorbitant salaries of some of its teachers. The author states that Illinois could save money by getting other professionals to do the job of its teachers for much less. According to Zettler, the idea of tenure and the...

In this article, Marie Gryphon applauds Governor Schwarzenegger’s proposal to provide merit pay for teachers, but she also raises several serious pitfalls that come when merit pay is not carefully thought out and evaluated. According to Gryphon, unless merit pay is paired with more school choice options, rewarding teachers on the basis of their performance could...

In addressing the issue of teacher tenure, Jonah Goldberg offers several anecdotes to describe the extreme waste of public tax dollars that go into protecting and paying tenured school teachers. Goldberg suggests that tenure protects teachers from issues that have long since been resolved through other legislation, and hence, tenure is prohibiting rather than...

Reporting on a teachers’ survey that discusses a variety of education issues, Clowes notes that many teachers realize that tenure helps protect bad teachers who should not be in the classroom. This article also notes that a majority of teachers are against the idea of merit pay, but more out of concern that their ability to achieve it would be out of their control...

This article reports on the Michigan legislature’s attempts to change teacher tenure laws in order to more efficiently dispose of bad teachers. The reform attempt was made due to the many instances in which tenured teachers have been able to remain in their jobs even after committing acts of pornography and alcoholism while on the job.

Chart or Graph

This chart lists the National Council on Teacher Quality's state by state teacher grade.

"Teachers' base salaries are tied to two factors: years of experience and additional education."

In many cases, the hourly average wage of teachers was much higher than the hourly average wage of other professional workers.

The above chart demonstrates the pay raise schedule for North Carolina Teachers in the 2001-2002 school year.

This chart compares the current salary plan for North Carolina teachers to a plan designed to provide more salary increases earlier in a teacher’s career.

This chart traces the rise of starting teacher salaries from 1972 to 1997 and compares them to the starting salaries of other common professions.

"For 2011, Florida received the highest overall teacher policy grade with a B, and three other states – Oklahoma, Rhode Island and Tennessee – earned B minuses."

Analysis Report White Paper

This fifth annual edition of the Yearbook documents more changes in state teacher policy than NCTQ has seen in any of its previous top-to-bottom reviews of the laws and regulations governing the teaching profession in the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Although Hassel takes the more progressive view that teachers are underpaid and in need of a salary increase, he also acknowledges that a variety of reforms should be tied to their raises.

This article explores the idea of teacher tenure and its relation to the effective instruction of children. The author opines that the idea of tenure is often misunderstood. In an effort to correct this, this paper describes what tenure actually involves and the process that teachers generally have to go through to get it.

Greene and Winters note that the subject of teacher pay is often emotionally charged, and as such, they attempt to create a detached, factual analysis of the true nature of teacher pay in America. Their findings demonstrate that teachers are often paid as well, if not better, than their white-collar professional counterparts.

This piece compiles research on major pay-for-performance programs in the United States.

Vigdor compares the current teacher payment method to that of doctors and lawyers. He suggests that teachers must endure many more years of practice before seeing significant wage increase, whereas doctors and lawyers enjoy a much faster rise in income levels.

Hess and Castle provide a comprehensive overview of the many issues surrounding teacher pay. Some of the issues that these authors take on include teacher pensions, performance pay, tenure, and the correlations between teacher quality and compensation.

Podgursky and Springer trace the history of teacher pay in the United States in order to discover why many teachers today are being paid through the “single salary schedule.”

According to Hess, changes in teacher salary options would go far in helping to get schools on the path to reform. In light of this, Hess discusses a variety of issues including teacher salaries, pensions, merit pay, and tenure.

"This volume includes one of the first systematic analyses of pay-for-performance practices in the private sector, and finds that although periodic 'bonus' payments are not uncommon in private firms, formulaic payments based on individual productivity are rare, particularly among professional workers outside of banking and finance...."

"The ability to effectively educate the nation's children hinges on the quality of our teachers. And to recruit and retain quality teachers requires that they receive pay commensurate with that offered in other career opportunities available to them."

This study covers information on what teachers actually get paid in comparison to other professions, and also seeks to dispel the myth that a first-year teacher does not have a sufficient salary to pay back college loans.

Video/Podcast/Media

This video describes Colorado’s implementation of the “Teacher Incentive Fund Program.” The program seeks to recruit and retain good teachers by offering bonuses for excellent performance in the classroom. According to this clip, the program is working well and teachers have more incentive to work harder and produce high quality students.

Washington D.C. school superintendent Michelle Rhee discusses her controversial steps to reform the failing D.C. public schools district. She shares stories about how ill-run the district was at the time of her arrival. Her proposals for teacher pay reform include giving teachers a choice to be either tenured or non-tenured. Both options come with a bonus, but the...

Researcher Robin Chait explains what the federal "Teacher Incentive Fund" is. This program incorporates pay for performance ideas in order to incentivize teachers to become more effective in the classroom, and thus raise student achievement scores in the process.

Primary Document

A FEW YEARS AGO, the question which required to be argued on the subject of endowments, was the right of the State to interfere with them....

"I’m here today to share our ideas about how the Legislature should deal with three education issues in the current session.

One involves steps to immediately address the achievement gap.

The second is a plan for performance reviews of teachers that will make our strong teaching profession even stronger.

And the third is a responsible plan to create alternative pathways...

Dan Goldhaber traces some of the ups and downs of teacher salaries throughout the years in this report prepared for the government. This article includes information on how teachers are generally paid, what starting salaries commonly are for teachers, as well as other benefits that teachers receive from their choice of employment. Goldhaber also studies some of the...

Burroughs argues on behalf of the NEA in this testimony concerning the standards of NCLB. Among other education issues, Burroughs addresses the problem of teacher quality and its relational issue of salaries. Burroughs asks Congress to raise the starting salaries of teachers and also provide other monetary benefits to teachers such as “financial bonuses, college...

This act seeks to spend federal funds for the use of teacher and principal merit pay. According to this document, these federal funds are to be linked to the rise of student academic performance. The act also specifies that this program is to be frequently assessed and used as a type of study to measure how well the idea of merit pay really works.

This document describes the Michigan legislation on teacher tenure. Some of the issues that are covered in this law include how a teacher can gain tenure and how a teacher can lose tenure, as well as the time line and legal process of both.

Ritter's congressional testimony declares that teacher performance pay can be used to effectively increase student learning and achievement. Although Ritter acknowledges that the evidence in this area is lacking, he points out that the research that is available backs up the claims of those who would tie performance pay to high academic standards. Ritter suggests...

Mayor Bloomberg describes what his city has done to improve student achievement in this congressional testimony. Bloomberg attributes much of their success to the city’s commitment to provide better salaries for teachers, improve tenure laws, and implement a pay for performance plan. The Mayor also proudly notes how these steps have been negotiated with the New...

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