Strategic Teacher Compensation
The ecosystem of teacher compensation is largely as it was two or ten decades ago. Most debates about teacher compensation are dominated by a labor-management calculation where teachers are treated like widgets and students are conspicuously absent from the equation. In 2010, the vast majority of teachers are still paid according to a single-schedule (step-and-lane system). Even though there is no evidence to associate experience, education, or seniority with student performance, the entrenched systems of tenure and collective bargaining perpetuate Paleolithic compensation structures.
Within the stone-age compensation environment, there are a few pockets of new ideas and growth. Some, like merit pay, present their own problems and incoherence. Others, like the massive incentive programs in Denver and Nashville, are too large to be nimble. They are monoliths too—Neolithic instead of Paleo. As we look across the landscape of teacher pay and the various approaches that are currently being used, we observed that none of them really captured what our experience and intuition tell us is right about compensation and performance. We concluded that the key problems with existing pay systems are that they consistently fail to align teacher pay with strategic purpose. The system we have developed—Strategic Teacher Compensation™—aligns the work of teachers with the work of the school.
Most of the compensation discussion contrasts merit/performance pay with step and lane systems—creating a misleading dichotomy. Neither approach values the teacher in a way that is appropriate to the teaching profession or, perhaps more importantly, the teacher’s strategic contribution to the education of children and a given school’s mission. Strategic Teacher Compensation draws a bright line from the actions of teachers to fulfillment of the school’s mission.
A simple truth, worth injecting in any compensation discussion, is that schools are not all the same. Districts are not all the same. While they share commonalities, they also have differences in population, parental participation and community support.
This causes schools to differentiate, especially in their strategic goals. Because of this divergence, a great teacher in one school may be just so-so another school. Teachers who lead or join efforts to form a cohesive vision for the school add more value than teachers who thwart those efforts. These varying levels of contributions should be reflected in the teachers’ compensation.
Effective school leaders develop a comprehensive strategic plan that is understood, accepted and supported by the school board. This strategic plan should be designed so that if faithfully implemented, the school will achieve its mission. For that reason, teachers who show support for the plan and assist in implementing the plan should be rewarded. Those who fail to support the plan and its implementation should not be rewarded to the same degree. This approach gives leaders more options rather than the binary choice between keeping teachers on staff or attempting to remove them from staff. Strategic Teacher Compensation lets leaders add salary to the package of persuasion and inspiration that typically motivates teachers to support the mission of the school.
WEBINAR ALERT! This Friday, on November 5, 2010, the Colorado League of Charter Schools and the Colorado Charter School Institute are sponsoring a free webinar on alternative (strategic) compensation. Details are below. HT CLCS Friday Wire.
Alternative Compensation for Educators - Webinar
Hosted by the Colorado League of Charter Schools and Charter School Institute
Date: Friday, November 5
Time: 9:30 AM - 10:30 AM
Location: Online Webinar
Description: The Colorado League of Charter Schools and the Charter School Institute invite you to participate in a Webinar on alternative compensation for educators. The Webinar will be moderated by Augenblick, Palaich and Associates, and will feature several perspectives from Colorado charter school leaders who are in various stages of implementing alternative compensation programs. Space is limited. Reserve your Webinar seat now at:https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/813447657. Questions? Contact Dale DeCesare at firstname.lastname@example.org or 720-227-0089.