The Path Forward
A trick question in the education policy world is asking, “What’s the one thing you would do to fix education?” The answer is always that there’s no silver bullet. To address the low teacher wages, and the inequality of who those teachers serve, there are a few solutions:
💵 Pay teachers more from the start - Most teacher contracts permit gradual increases in pay over decades, often around $1000 per year, but teachers could be paid more & sooner based on their effectiveness. Effectiveness can be measured by principal ratings, standardized test scores, and other metrics. In Washington DC, removing the gradual approach allowed the district to pay teachers a starting salary north of $70,000 in a high-poverty school. Most cities and counties that also implemented this payment structure increased their maximum salaries for highly effective teachers by $10,000.
Give teachers a sliding tax credits in high-poverty schools - Given that education is primarily managed by states and localities, the federal government could provide sliding tax credits based on the percentage of high-poverty students. Teachers could receive a $10,000 tax credit when a school has more than 75% of students receiving FRLP. The tax credit would decrease by $400 each time that percentage decreased, and would end if fewer than 50% of students had FRLP. The tax credit incentivizes teachers to keep working in their districts, while attracting more talent to work there as well. This model has worked well in both the UK and Singapore.