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10.4.05

Stop throwing money at teachers, start demanding they perform

So not only is Gov. Kathleen Blanco trying to find ways to give $1,000 raises to teachers (and others working for schools), she’s being told it’s not enough. "Throwing a few bucks at it has only gotten us to the problem we're in," says the president of the Louisiana Federation of Teachers, the learned Steve Monaghan.

Oh, really? A review of some vital statistics is in order, ranking the state along with the other 49 plus the District of Columbia:

Louisiana rank on 4th grade reading scores: 48th (tied)
Louisiana rank on 8th grade reading scores: 47th (tied)
Louisiana rank on 4th grade mathematics scores: 47th
Louisiana rank on 8th grade mathematics scores: 47th (tied)
Louisiana rank on per-pupil spending for current operations of schools: 42nd
Louisiana rank on per-pupil spending for instruction in schools: 41st
Louisiana rank on per-teacher spending for salaries in schools: 46th

Seems to me there’s a little underperforming going on here expenditures relative to performance (and this with the new accountability programs in place). So before teachers’ unions go shooting off their mouths about how so much more money is needed, shouldn’t we expect to see some improvement in educational achievement by state students at least up to the same level at which it is financially supported, relatively speaking?

What the governor should do is make a deal. Tell the teachers’ unions that she will, in fact, boost every teacher’s pay at least $1,000 – in exchange for instituting a performance pay plan for teachers. It’s not like it’s a totally alien concept; several states already have them or are adopting them. Teachers should be tested to see that they actually know what they are talking about in the classroom.

It’s not pay increases that will really improve educational performance in this state, it’s making sure teachers are exerting themselves to perform at a higher level. Indirectly, school accountability as a whole does this, but a more direct approach will make education in this state even more efficient.

Of course, these very same teachers’ unions spiked this idea 15 years ago. No union ever educated a child; they’re there only to preserve teaching jobs and to transfer as much wealth from taxpayers to teachers as possible. And the only people who have to fear a system which rewards teachers for their mastery of what they teach are those who aren’t very competent in the first place.

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