Should Math and Science Teachers Get Paid More Than Other Teachers?

Lawrence Krauss gives his take on a touchy subject: Should math and science teachers get paid more than those who teach the humanities?

As much as I want to get behind this, it’s a short-sighted solution. At least in my experience, teachers aren’t in the profession for the money. The good teachers see it as a calling, the bad ones see it as a job, and it’s pretty easy to tell which teachers are in which group. Offering money as a carrot to lure in teachers for harder-to-fill positions won’t necessarily get you the best and brightest. (Though it’s easy for me to say that when I work in a community that’s pretty affluent to begin with.)

What would help to draw in qualified candidates across the board?

Here are two suggestions, neither of which is about to happen anytime soon: First, change the perception of teaching from something that people do only as a last resort to something that commands more respect. I know plenty of teachers who can make (and have made) more money elsewhere, but they came into our profession because it was more fulfilling. Second, raise the bar for entry so that it’s tougher to become a teacher in the first place. The certification exams to become a teacher are a joke, and once you’re in the system, it’s notoriously hard to get kicked out. The problem with doing this is that it’s hard enough as is to fill math/science positions — raising the bar won’t help staff already hard-to-fill positions.

For what it’s worth, anyway, this sort of incentive has been tried before. Whether it has made a difference is still up for debate.


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