I don’t often read Nicholas Kristof’s columns, but this one in today’s NYT caught my eye.
Given the current climate on the subject of public employees, Kristof thinks teachers should not be demonized and that we should pay them more, in part to raise the prestige of the profession. Fifty years ago when women had few professional alternatives beyond teaching and nursing, America’s classrooms were run by the best and brightest females in the land. Not so anymore. To wit:
… 47 percent of America’s kindergarten through 12th-grade teachers come from the bottom one-third of their college classes (as measured by SAT scores).
That’s really unfortunate and I agree that we need to do something about it (please don’t accuse me of demonizing teachers; I taught high school English for 13 years and come from a family of educators). For the most part, I don’t disagree with the idea that some teachers should be paid more. But I think we should pay the best teachers more.
he is correct that higher pay should be tied, in part, to superior performance. The best teachers should earn the most. I would add that school boards should also be allowed to pay more for hard-to-fill positions such as math and science. But the unions will fight those reforms tooth-and-nail precisely because of the outdated “factory model of compensation” Kristof speaks of. That attitude has got to change if education is ever to be reformed. But don’t bet on it.
Is it really as hard to rate teacher performance as the unions would have us believe? I don’t think so. Success in teaching is all relative.