Ever wonder what the world would be like if people actually got paid decent wages for their work? What would happen, say, if teachers were paid good money for bringing education to the youth of America?
That was the question behind the Equality Project, a charter school created under the idea that teachers’ salaries should be on par with those of doctors and lawyers. The school pays their teachers $125,000 a year, with the opportunity for performance-based bonuses. They also have higher expectations of their teachers -- longer hours, larger classes, four weeks of professional development a year, and regular reviews.
And the Wall Street Journal is reporting that the project has, so far, shown itself to be successful, at least according to data from a new study. The study compared students at the TEP school to students at a nearby public school who had similar initial test results, family incomes, and other social demographics.
The data shows that, on average, students at the TEP school gained an extra year and a half’s worth of math knowledge, more than an extra half year of science, and almost a half years’ worth of English. The results showed that TEP’s methods erased 78% of the achievement gap between Hispanic students and white students in the eighth grade.
Of course, the model isn’t perfect -- Teacher burnout proved to be a problem, what with larger class sizes and longer hours being a requirement in order to allow for the higher salaries. And even with improved scores over other students in the area, only 43% of their students passed the state’s math tests last year.
Still, the initial findings are enough to show that change in pay can make a change for the better in our educational systems. The typical teacher in New York with five years of experience averages between $64,000 and $76,000 a year, despite the fact that they tend to work long hours, bring their work home with them, have to struggle constantly with budget cuts, and are tasked with one of the most important jobs towards securing America’s future. If giving them decent wages for their work and holding them to higher standards can ensure that our children are receiving the best education possible, then there’s no reason why we shouldn’t consider it a viable option in the endless debate over education reform.
[Pic via Flickr - Ilmicrofono Oggiono]