Why Educators' Wages Must Be Revamped Now
It is no secret that some school districts spend their money better than others. One can easily find groups of districts with the same student demographics and with the same expenditure levels producing very different levels of student achievement. Put another way, some (many?) districts are spending more than they need to spend, based on what other districts show is possible. Economists would summarize this as indicating the existence of considerable inefficiency in the operation of schools. But does this excess spending imply that we can simply cut back on spending without harming students?
This surely is a key question that will come up this spring in statehouses across the nation as they face another tough budget year. District officials, if they are wise, will not just rely on the same old belt-tightening maneuvers. Indeed, perhaps the only viable option is seriously addressing policies toward educator salaries.
To put the issue in perspective, let's start with some basic history about the budgetary picture for schools. The recession of 2008 was a rude shock to state and local governments, and especially to schools. Coming off a century of continuous growth in spending per pupil, districts were slow to adjust to the possibility that the revenue collapse might actually put them on a...
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