$125K Teachers?

People are talking about the Equity Project’s high teacher compensation. By paying $125K salaries plus bonuses, the Project aims to bring “talent” to schools where underprivileged children learn.

The most popular arguments for and against this tactic cover some well-tread territory:

From: “If we value our kids, teachers should get paid well for the important work they do” to “Teachers shouldn’t be into it for the money” to “Let the market set salaries.”

These positions miss something – a fundamental shift in the way people work today: the boundaries between kinds of work are breaking down. Thanks to the internet, the social entrepreneurship movement, increased pressure for “corporate social responsibility”, and bigger student loan burdens – to name just a few factors – more and more “talented” people are rejecting the silos of the past. Innovators can work in nonprofits. Do-gooders can work in corporations. Artists can be businesspeople. Ordinary professionals can be entrepreneurs. Self-employed people in home offices can work with large companies around the globe.

Increasingly, at least some of the kinds of the people who make great teachers – smart, resourceful, good communicators, and so on – will realize that making a contribution as an educator does not require being the employee of a school at all. As more and more of them do, schools will have to compete as workplaces against every other work option that offers the same intrinsic rewards.

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