Think Tank Urges Federal Pay Scale For Teachers
By Tiffany Danitz, Staff Writer
The federal government can help improve U.S. public education by establishing a national pay scale and set of standards for teachers, a New York-based research group says.
The nonprofit, nonpartisan Century Foundation (formerly the Twentieth Century Fund) hopes to to help shape the debate on education and other issues in this year's election campaign with a series of proposals called Ideas2000: New Ideas for a New Century.
Its proposal for education urges the federal government, which now provides seven percent of the nation's education dollars, to sharply increase its contribution, with the money going to reach teacher pay and teaching standards.
Ahead of the Class: Expanding the Supply of Quality Teachers says the best way to address the impending teacher shortage is for the federal government to create a uniform pay scale based on performance. (to display Graphic 2 and its caption)
The U.S. teacher shortage is expected to grow over the next decade to 2.2 million vacancies. Subjects expected to suffer most acutely are math, science, computer science, bilingual and special education.
It would cost $10,555 per teacher or $2.3 billion a year to make starting salaries match those of entry-level professionals, the report says.
It also calls for federal involvement in teacher education by setting standards and requiring teachers to teach within their field of study. The report also advocates a greater federal role in certification and says teachers should be required to have a year of classroom experience in order to be listed as fully qualified.
The report notes that presidential hopeful Al Gore and George W. Bush both favor increased school accountability and higher salaries for teachers.
"However, both candidates have been reticent to see a federal role in these activities, leaving most decision making up to the states and local school boards. This is problematic, as state and local governments often are unwilling or unable to take the steps necessarily to increase teacher salaries in addition to toughening standards," it says.