Most school budgets have been tight for years, with districts trimming everything from printing to teachers.
Michael Podgursky, an economics professor at the University of Missouri, said the economic downturn may force payroll reform in some places where the political will has been lacking. And they don't have to blow up the old system to do it, he said.
"We're experimenting now," he said, noting pay-for-performance experiments in New York City, Houston and Nashville.
American teacher pay has been structured the same way in every state since before World War II. Before then, high school teachers were paid more than primary school instructors. Establishing one pay rate was a feminist issue since teachers in the younger grades used to be mostly women and most high school teachers were men.
Even in states where teacher pay is set by the school district according to market factors, the pay schedule has been the same way for many decades, Podgursky said.
Debating a change could be more controversial and unpopular than cutting chocolate milk from the school cafeteria menu.
But education economists believe this idea can't be ignored forever, because teacher pay is the biggest part of education budgets and the salary schedule drives that spending.
So it seems that bonuses are good for bankers, hedge funds managers, traders, and other Wall Street personnel. However, not so for our teachers?
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