Business, Economics and Jobs

An experiment in teacher pay

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The average salary for middle-school teachers is $46,000, according to the Department of Labor. But a charter school in New York's Washington Heights will be paying a salary of $125,000, trying to find out if better pay means a better education.

Zeke Vanderhoek, the founder and principal of the charter school The Equity Project (TEP), believes teacher quality is key to student achievement, and a higher salary will attract quality. "The point of the money is two-fold: one, it really values outstanding people who are in teaching right now ... and opposed to simply paying lip-service to valuing them. And the other is the hope is it attracts a broader pool of candidates into teaching itself, and a more talented pool as a whole."

"My hope is with it is actually not that it will incentivize teachers more. I don't think paying teachers more money all of a sudden is going to make a poor teacher into a great teacher; or mediocre teacher into a good teacher."

Joe Williams is Executive Director of Democrats for Education Reform. He agrees that not all teachers are created equal, but thinks society has a tough time making that distinction.

"If you want to see teachers earning the kind of salaries that we all believe teachers deserve, we've got to start recognizing that the best teachers are doing a much better job than the worst teachers," said Williams.

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