Paying teachers extra for serving in high-needs schools is one of the few ideas embraced by presidential candidates on both sides of the aisle this election year. And even lots of teachers like the notion, at least in theory. But districts experimenting with "hardship" pay have come up against a problem: a little bit extra won't do. Because teachers value good working conditions more than cash, bonuses have to be big to be effective. Australia's Noel Pearson seems to have gotten the message, and then some. He's launching Teach for Australia with private funds. For experienced teachers who move to the bush and teach successfully in Aboriginal schools, the program will provide $50,000 extra--yes, on top of regular salaries. (Granted, that's only $43,000 in U.S. dollars.) One of the project's leaders told the Australian, "We think if you get the incentives right, there will be a huge number of people wanting to do this." No kidding--can we apply?
"Teachers' $50K bush bonus," by Justine Ferrari, The Australian, January 17, 2008