May 2nd, 2010
(This is the seventh in a series of posts where we re-visit articles I penned for our Imagine a World series. In each of these repostings, I share some background for the original article and we also provide audio responses from guest contributors. In this post, we explore my article on the idea of teachers not receiving traditional tenure, but rather having agents that negotiate their contracts, posted originally on January 16th, 2010.)
Rob’s inspiration and original thoughts — Okay, let’s face it. Particularly in Higher Education, most instructors are not great instructors. Add to that fact the reality that distance education is changing the very role or definition of the instructor, and we have an even greater scarcity of high-quality teaching. With scarcity there is always demand and, at least in the United States, the possibility of related financial gain. If the evolution continues as I have sketched out, it makes sense that the very best teachers — ones whose success can be tracked and whose performance guarantees student outcomes — will be recruited heavily. And with a lucrative talent pool, why not have agents? I certainly believe that one of the great “divides” we will see in the coming years is between superstar instructors (as opposed to researchers) and those teachers who have less success. And it is likely, I think, that such talent will give rise to independent teaching organizations that are different from our current higher education options.
Guest Responses — Here is what our guests have to say about our original post:
Imagine a world where tenure is obsolete, top teachers have agents that negotiate their contracts, and competition for their services is intense. Now imagine some of the salaries and benefits that schools might be willing to pay.
All Good Teachers Need Agents
Dateline: January 18, 2016
The erosion of the old tenure structure for teachers is leading to new economic gain for many, and to a heightened competition for teaching talent.
Indeed, as tenure has practically disappeared in the U.S. educational system, the concept of “guaranteed” employment based on years of service has given way to a free-market teaching model where top performers are recruited heavily and lured away with attractive compensation packages and benefits.
The National Teachers Union (NTU) reports that while less than 10% of schools and universities in the U.S. support formal tenure programs, teachers and instructors are actually receiving improved payment and benefits overall, due to collective bargaining agreements and the growth of the educator agent industry.
According to NTU, another key factor contributing to the improved salaries and benefits of many teachers and instructors in the U.S. is the fact that more than 25% now have representation by a certified educator agent.
Dan Harris, CEO of Teaching Talent, Inc., the nation’s largest educator agency, says that agent representation is critical for teachers who want to be rewarded appropriately. “Now that there’s no tenure to protect or reward good teachers, advocacy is more important than ever. Teachers and educators with strong evaluations and proven effectiveness as measured by student performance are in high demand and need help negotiating and obtaining the full packages available to them.”
According to Harris, such packages include six-figure salaries, incentive clauses related to student performance and teaching awards, and other perks such as moving expenses, transportation, and family care options.
“A premium math or English teacher in today’s market, for example, can pretty much write his or her own ticket in any of the major school districts.”
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