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For more than one thousand years, science operated under the immutable law that Earth sat at the center of the universe. When observers questioned this law, the entrenched institutions of the time were steadfast in maintaining the status quo.
Ultimately, of course, innovation challenged these institutional “truths” and brought some real answers for how the world works.
I first heard the concept that public education has its own series of similarly flawed immutable laws from Mike Miles, former superintendent of Harrison, Colorado, and Dallas, Texas. I share his thinking that some entrenched institutions are more resistant to change than others, and, public education can be one of the most intractable.
For the sake of innovating and improving our schools, these immutable laws of education must be challenged and overturned. It’s no coincidence that the man who brought me this analogy is also one working to change the immutable laws of education.
Reforming Teacher Compensation
One immutable law Miles is tackling is the idea that teacher compensation should be based on career longevity and education credits.
Rather than tweaking the salary schedule, as so many school systems have done through each successive wave of reform, we must fundamentally change the system that pays teachers based solely on their years of experience and degrees earned.
At Pikes Peak Prep K-12, a public charter school in Colorado Springs, Colorado where Miles serves as CEO, teacher pay is differentiated based on the organization’s values. This means math and language arts teachers receive significantly higher salaries than art and physical education teachers.
“It doesn’t take the same level of skill to teach kids how to dribble or play volleyball,” Miles explained to me recently. “We believe that the middle school reading teacher for kids who are way behind is our brain surgeon and so they are going to get paid more.”
This piece originally appeared in Education Post. Click here to read the entire piece.