Thursday, December 09, 2004

A new model for teachers' pay

I had an excellent idea earlier in the week. I have a new idea for how to determine teachers' pay. We should no longer base salary on years of experience and educational background. Instead, we should pay per student. The catch is that different students could be worth different amounts. Jane Doe, who is an honors student and makes low A's consistently, participates in a positive way in class, and has parents who are involved but not constantly breathing down your neck might only be worth $200 a year. On the other hand, you could earn $3,000 a year for teaching Julie Doe, who never turns in her work, has a "behavioral disorder," can't be disciplined even for hitting or spitting on others because of the disorder, and parents who expect you to give her personal attention every second of every day so that she will pass your class (and it is completely your fault if she doesn't).

This would solve many of the problems in education today. Many schools are trying to move toward a "student-centered" approach instead of a "teacher-centered approach." What this means is that they are putting the teachers with the most experience, with the best qualifications, in the toughest classrooms. Really, it makes sense, and is only fair to the students. On the other hand, it is not fair to teachers who feel like they have put in their years and aren't being rewarded. This system would provide an incentive to take on those classes and students who require more time. Perhaps people would even compete to have these students in their room. It also equalizes the pay per hour. The teachers who spend the most time on students (at meetings, conferences, tutoring) would make more money.

Now, it wouldn't just be poor behavior that would make a student worth more pay. If you've ever taught a gifted and talented class, you know some of those students can be handfulls. A student who argues about every point missed on every test? That's worth a couple extra hundred bucks. Additionally, in my district the honors and GT classes are much larger in size. This means more grading time. Since teachers would be paid per student, they would be feel like the were being compensated for that 35+ class.

What do you think? I suggested the idea at my school and it has really caught on. We all walk around putting dollar amounts on our students now. "Oh you have Andrew?!!! He's worth a couple thou at least"... "My 4th period class would allow me to retire at 30!" I don't think the union will be asking for my help anytime soon, but at least it has provided some comic relief, which we need desperately because there are no snow days in sight.