Thursday, March 30, 2006

Education Revisited

Yesterday I posted about an education reform in Florida that would give bonuses to high performing teachers. Today, as if on demand, there is a post at Eduwonk that links to a paper on reforming collective bargaining agreements for public school teachers*. These recommendations are much more in line with what I think needs to be done to improve education. Among the recommendations are; supporting charter schools, removing teacher tenure, and allowing for more salary flexibility to enhance recruitment of top teachers.

To be fair to Governor Bush, he actually has little power to make the changes to collective bargaining agreements made at the local level, so he is unable to implement policies like the ones mentioned above. Therefore, he is probably taking whatever small steps he can to reward teacher performance. But if we are serious about education reform, we need to go beyond small bonuses to a few selected teachers. As it stands now, most school systems base pay on years of service and the teacher's level of education. It leaves out not only performance, but pay differentials for more challenging assignments or posessing valuable skills. Again, unions will almost definitely stand in the way. But without these changes, we can expect little improvement in the overall quality of education.

*In case you don't have time to read the whole paper, read the executive summary. It is brief and hits the major points.