One of the things I find most inexplicable about our nation’s headlong rush into governmental control of the economy is the failure of so many supposedly bright people to understand the basics of a free market economy.
Unshackled by bureaucratic, centralized control, people make rational choices. Success is rewarded, failure is penalized. In particular, people are motivated by knowing they live in a system where they will be rewarded financially through excellence in their chosen profession.
If you are one of the best singers, actors, baseball players, inventors or businessmen in America, it will pay off for you. In fact, success is rewarded in just about every arena — except the profession of teaching. Might that have something to do with our abysmal record on public education?
Since 1960, after being adjusted for inflation, government spending on education has quadrupled. Does anyone believe our students are four times better educated now than in 1960? The issue is not how much we’ve spent, but how effectively we’ve spent it.
When I ran for Governor in 2006 I argued that if we want to attract and keep the best and the brightest in the teaching profession, we needed to institute a form of merit pay that rewards the most effective and successful teachers. I even suggested that under this system, we should be prepared to pay six-figure salaries to the very best public school teachers.
Now the Goldwater Institute has issued a report: “New Millennium Schools: Delivering six-figure teacher salaries in return for outstanding student learning gains.” Read it. Pass it around.
And if we’re serious about improving public education, let’s start putting incentives into the teaching profession like they exist in the rest of the American economy.

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