In an attempt to recruit and retain teachers in struggling schools, bonuses are being used as a lure (“Bonuses of Up to $8,000 to Teach in Struggling New York Schools,” The New York Times, Oct. 12). The latest example involves paying teachers in New York City between $5,000 and $8,000.
I seriously doubt that the Bronx Plan, as it is called in New York City for the borough where many of the 180 public schools are located, will do the job. For one thing, the bonuses alone are not that attractive in light of the challenges facing teachers in the targeted schools. Moreover, the bonuses are not tied to success in the classroom. As a result, the few teachers who will bite will not necessarily be the system’s best.
The truth is that teachers are not mercenaries or missionaries. They simply want to be able to teach their subject as they were trained to do. When they have to perform triage on a daily basis because of the disadvantages that so many students in failing schools bring to class every day, they soon experience burnout and quit.
Would increasing the amount of the bonuses make a difference? Perhaps for some, but even then the bonuses would have to be stepped up dramatically. I personally would not be interested.
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