What I would do if I had $44 million to implement a differential pay program for teachers

Florida is now going to spend $44 million on a differential teacher pay program in 2015-16. Unfortunately, the $10,000 bonuses will be based on the scores teachers earned on their own SAT or ACT scores in high school. In this post from January of this year, I describe what I would do if someone gave me a substantial amount of money for a teacher differential pay program:  use it for raising the pay of teachers who are willing to teach in high needs schools and for teachers in subjects where there are critical shortages, including math, science and ESE. $44 million could have made quite a positive splash if used that way.

Bridge to Tomorrow

The data almost scream an answer to the shortage of teachers in math and certain sciences:  Pay higher salaries to teachers in those subjects!

A similar differential pay strategy would probably also be the most effective way to attack the problem of high teacher turnover in schools with large numbers of kids from disadvantaged backgrounds – pay high-performing teachers more to work in high-needs schools.

So why hasn’t differential pay caught on in policy circles or on the ground in the school districts?

Because both large constituencies in the public education debates – defenders of the traditional public school systems (who are most often liberal) and “reformers” (who are most often conservative) – are opposed to it, although for different reasons.

Defenders of traditional school systems like the conventional salary schedule system in which teacher pay is determined by the number of years of experience of a teacher and the teacher’s graduate…

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