Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Jesse Rothstein on teacher tenure

Here's a short interview with Rothstein, an economist doing interesting work on teacher quality and education. I like this closing passage:
Everyone agrees that the goal should be to make teaching a respected profession, a profession that talented and able people want to enter. So far, I've heard you say that there's not a lot of evidence suggesting ways that that could be accomplished effectively. Is there one policy that we haven't discussed? 
We could double teachers' salaries. I'm not joking about that. The standard way that you make a profession a prestigious, desirable profession, is you pay people enough to make it attractive. The fact that that doesn't even enter the conversation tells you something about what's wrong with the conversation around these topics. I could see an argument that says it's just not worth it, that it would cost too much. The fact that nobody even asks the question tells me that people are only willing to consider cheap solutions. They're looking for easy answers, not hard answers.
My son has just started his first teaching job in a very challenging middle school environment, working with a disadvantaged population. In other words, he is doing "God's work," if you ask me. He is putting in about 80 hours a week, and is stressed out just about every waking moment. I'm not sure I would trade places with him for twice my salary, never mind twice his. So sure, take away teacher tenure... but double their salaries. That sounds like a good start.

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