Teacher Pay Raise Urged By
Kenneth J. Cooper Washington Post Staff Writer Monday, August 14, 2000;
Page A19 The nonpartisan research group
formerly known as the Twentieth Century Fund has recommended the federal
government take on a huge new role in education and raise teacher salaries
to the level of other professionals with similar schooling, at a cost of $30
billion to $60 billion a year.
recommendation in a policy paper on teacher quality issues released last
week by the Century Foundation, as the New York-based group has been
renamed, would nearly double or triple the Education Department's $36
billion budget. The government would also for the first time provide ongoing
salary supplements to teachers and join states in performing that
The other part of the group's proposal for increasing the supply of
qualified teachers at a time when the nation faces a teacher shortage would
expand federal involvement by setting standards for the profession, which
has been a state prerogative.
High school teachers would have to
complete a college major or minor in the subject they teach, at least a
summer of course work in instructional techniques and a yearlong
"apprenticeship" as a student teacher.
Vice President Gore has made
similar campaign proposals to expand the federal role in
Gore's more modest plan to increase teacher salaries in school
districts serving low-income students would cost about $8 billion over 10
years. He has also called for uniform professional standards, but it would
be based on how teachers perform on competency tests in their academic
Republican presidential nominee George W. Bush has opposed
federal involvement in either paying teachers more or telling states how to
The nonpartisan foundation said its teacher quality
plan "combines aspects of proposals made by players on both the liberal and
conservative ends of the political spectrum." It does include, for instance,
such favorite ideas of conservatives as basing teacher raises on their
performance and paying specialists in the shortest supply more than other
While the paper's authors do not indicate where the billions of
dollars to raise teacher salaries would come from, they do offer detailed
cost estimates, some based on census data.
To make the starting
salaries of new teachers match those of other entry-level professionals
would cost $2.3 billion a year, or $10,555 per teacher. To equalize the
salaries of all teachers with the pay of similarly educated professionals
would boost the amount to $60 billion, "a huge increase considering that
currently only $75 billion is spent on teacher salaries," the paper
The cost would drop to about $30 billion if an adjustment is made
for the three summer months that most teachers don't spend working in
Reaction from other groups that study education issues was split
along familiar conservative-liberal lines.
"Most people want to pay
teachers more. But if we try to raise salaries for all teachers around the
country, it would break the bank," said Marci Kanstoroom, research director
for the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation. "That can't be a serious
Kanstoroom also criticized as misguided the proposal for the
government to help make teacher standards uniform. "We can imagine teachers
who don't have the formal credential but who know the subject really well,"
John F. Jennings, director of the Center on Education Policy,
endorsed both recommendations.The government, he said, could easily finance
the teacher raises out of the $3 trillion surplus projected over the next
decade if education is truly a priority. "We've got the money, and it's a
matter of where we spend it," he said.
Jennings also argued it's a
logical next step for the government to get involved in improving the
quality of teachers, which research has shown to be a strong factor in
student achievement. "If we're urging higher standards [on states], we ought
to provide the wherewithal to meet those standards," he said.