"For a job you love, and that’s what a college presidency must be, $125,000, house or not, is an awful lot of money. I disagree that colleges will only attract able presidents by offering vast salaries and benefits. Today, high salaries may attract exactly the wrong candidates."
That got me thinking about the way that we pay teachers. Not that there is any danger in this ever happening in my lifetime, but what would happen if teachers were paid like attorneys or business executives? Would we attract the "wrong candidates" like Sloane suggests? What is the magic salary window in which we attract the "right" candidates?
In my home state of Utah most first-year public school teachers make around $28,000. In the district where I taught I was paid $26,000 for my first year, but other districts are a bit higher. Like many young professionals in the field, particularly those with families, I made the decision to leave public education because the prospect of supporting a family, going on any sort of vacation, and ever buying a home seemed very out of reach. This may sound a bit arrogant, but I considered myself an excellent educator and feel like the system lost a good candidate when I left. This is the current debate in education: How much do we need to pay in order to keep the talented ones?
I'm not really sure what that number is, although it is surely more than what we are paying teachers currently. The interesting question is the one posed by Sloane. How much is too much? How important is altruism and unselfishness in a teacher? Does paying them what they are worth pose a threat to their motives and intentions? It's interesting to me that we ask these sorts of questions relative to education, but not in other fields like, say for instance medicine. My wife recently delivered our first child and I was shocked at what the anesthesiologist made (grateful that we had him, but still quite amazed at what he billed for the limited amount of time he spent attending to my wife). For the record, I think his services are worth what we pay him for. What is interesting to me is that I don't think anyone would ever worry about what his pay might do in terms of his motives or whether the high pay of the position might attract the "wrong" type of candidate.
Is attracting the "wrong" type of candidate really something we should be worrying about?