Thursday, September 17, 2009

$125,000 teachers

Here's an experiment that asks the question: "What what kind of teachers could a school get if it paid them $125,000 a year?"

It's an interesting idea. I'd assume you could get very good teachers, especially if you spent 15 months on a cross-country search looking for them:
The school’s founder, Zeke M. Vanderhoek, 32, a Yale graduate who founded a test prep company, has been grappling with just these issues. Over the past 15 months he conducted a nationwide search that was almost the American Idol of education — minus the popular vote, but complete with hometown visits (Mr. Vanderhoek crisscrossed the country to observe the top 35 applicants in their natural habitats) and misty-eyed fans (like the principal who got so emotional recommending Casey Ash that, Mr. Vanderhoek recalled, she was “basically crying on the phone with me, saying what a treasure he was.”)
So if this works -- if we find out in a year or two that these kids are doing exceptionally well -- what will we have learned?

That if we hand pick the very best and most dedicated teachers our kids will do better? This strikes me as self-evident.

That if we pay teachers two and a half times more than they are getting now we will attract better teachers? This stands to reason, as we'd be able to pull bright, motivated people in from other industries.

I guess my real question is this: If this works, what are the practical implications? What do we do then? Just automatically start pouring billions more dollars into education?

Is it that easy?

I'm sure I don't know.

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