In an eye-opening research brief published by the Show-Me Institute, policy analyst James Shuls sheds light on the sad and incongruous picture of teacher compensation in the state of Missouri. He shows that 99.8% of public school teachers in the state are employed by districts that compensate teachers through “step and lane” pay scales, in which salaries are based on years of experience and credentials, not any measure of teacher performance. Because of the structure of these scales, the overwhelming majority of teachers are rewarded for persistence, not labor market value.
As such, gym teachers, who tend to stay in schools longer than math, science, or practically any other teacher type, on average, get paid the most.
This is crazy.
The labor market value of a math teacher, that is, what they could make if they decided to do something else, is significantly higher than that of a gym teacher, who has fewer options outside of a school. Pay should reflect this. If we want to attract our best and brightest into the teaching profession, we need to realize that other folks might be competing for their talents and making them better offers.
And this is the bare minimum. Once we realize that different teachers have different labor market values, we can have a conversation about linking teacher pay to teacher performance. We live in a world of limited resources, and must endeavor to use them in the most efficient ways possible. Rewarding teachers for simply not getting fired is not an efficient use of school funds.
But those are just my two cents; feel free to check it out for yourselves.