Press Release

AFT Statement On Two New Reports on Teacher Compensation

For Release: 

Thursday, October 1, 2009


AFT Media Affairs

Two reports on teacher compensation are being released today: Redesigning Teacher Pay: A System for the Next Generation of Educators, which is volume 2 in the Economic Policy Institute Series on Alternative Teacher Compensation Systems, and Teacher Compensation and Teacher Quality, a report from the Committee for Economic Development.

WASHINGTON—Two new reports on teacher compensation put into relief the right and wrong way to create education policy. Redesigning Teacher Pay by Susan Moore Johnson and John P. Papay is a much better effort and takes serious steps toward not just demonstrating what is wrong with current teacher compensation systems but also offering good, solid ideas on how to fix it.

Harvard University’s Johnson and Papay provide a simple frame for designing and evaluating performance pay plans for teachers. The authors propose a powerful plan for reforming compensation for the next generation of teachers. The Economic Policy Institute report recognizes and highlights the value of teacher leadership. Johnson and Papay focus particularly on peer assistance, career ladders and other teacher-led initiatives.

At the same time, the Committee for Economic Development (CED) report on teacher compensation shows what happens when teachers are not included in the planning and design of new policy. It would be a different and more useful report if CED had included teachers on its committee.

While we do not agree with the CED report as a whole, we applaud both new reports’ recognition of the dire need for teacher supports. Good teachers want to become great teachers, and we at the AFT want to help that happen by striving to improve teacher practice and student learning. There is nothing teachers want more than the tools and conditions they need to succeed. We must have the support in place to provide for the continuous improvement of all teachers, like job-embedded professional development, mentoring and induction programs. Further, compensation incentives to promote good teaching always should be negotiated between teachers and their unions and the school district, who know best what will work in their schools.

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The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.