To compete with more lucrative private sector job options and address critical shortages, the Los Angeles Unified School District dangled a new (smallish) carrot in hopes of attracting and retaining math and science teachers. The City of Angels will bestow one-time $5,000 "incentives" on certified math and science teachers who opt for classroom over corporate positions. The city will also reimburse its current math and science teachers up to $5,000 for any future subject-matter courses they take. LAUSD's Dan Isaacs said, "We're doing our best to get the very best and brightest in these fields to consider education as a career." It's no small feat to push teacher unions to agree to any form of incentive-based pay, and the city deserves congratulations for making progress on that front. Five thousand dollars, though, is hardly enough to entice America's best young scientists and mathematicians to reject the private sector in favor of urban public schools, and we assume someone within LAUSD knows that. But convincing the unions that physics teachers deserve much higher base salaries than phys-ed teachers will take a lot more work.
"A Costly Lesson in Supply and Demand," by Michelle Keller, Los Angeles Times, July 17, 2006