Teachers are the only group of college-educated professionals who are paid almost purely on the basis of years on the job, as if teachers are indistinguishable, replaceable widgets. And yet any of us who ever went to school understand the vast differences between our greatest teachers and our weakest.
The problem with a one-size-fits-all model, however, extends far beyond just the unfairness of ignoring high performance in pay. It’s the root of near continuous fighting and discontent, as teacher unions’ value proposition would mostly disappear if teachers couldn’t be corralled in mass protest over the details of a single contract. Teachers unions without fights would be like a boat without water.
Elected leaders in every locality need to make evolved decisions on teacher pay that reflect aspirations and reality, balancing interests of both educators and taxpayers. But the one-size-fits-all education monopoly is rooted in a broken, early 20th century industrial model that would be considered laughable if applied to any other profession. And while apologists for the education establishment insist that it always has to be this way, it’s time for the rest of us to force reforms. Like any other multi-billion dollar government institution, we can be sure that change will never come from the inside.
This video is a commentary by Choice Media Executive Director Bob Bowdon, published April 30, 2018.
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