To the Editor:
“Teacher Panel Calls for Overhaul of Pay Across Profession” (April 18, 2007) leaves readers with the distinct impression that opposition to reform in the way teachers are paid is peculiar to the United States. But earlier this year, Australia rejected a plan remarkably similar to the one proposed by the North Carolina-based Center for Teaching Quality.
In a controversial decision, Australia’s treasurer, Peter Costello, turned down a plan to reward teachers by their output rather than by their input, saying that individual states, which are responsible for teachers’ salaries, should pay the costs. The Australian plan, put forward by Minister for Education, Science, and Training Julie Bishop, would have incorporated many of the nuanced provisions of CTQ’s TeacherSolutions.
The subsequent rejection of Ms. Bishop’s performance-pay proposal by the states was characterized by critics as evidence of the stranglehold that teachers’ unions exert on state and territory education ministers in Australia. It was seen as particularly counterproductive in light of the exodus of students from public to private schools.
Differentiated pay may ultimately prove to play a powerful role in recruiting and retaining teachers. But if the reaction so far in the United States and Australia is any guide, an overhaul may be difficult to implement. In teaching, tradition dies hard.
Los Angeles, Calif.
A version of this article appeared in the May 02, 2007 edition of Education Week as Differentiated-Pay Plans: Implementation Is the Rub