A friend pointed me to a long New York Times article on yet another top-down idea for improving American schools. This is exactly the opposite approach taken by the country with the most effective schools (see my postings on The Smartest Kids in the World, including this one on Finland). To me the most interesting thing about the article is that the author, Andrew Ross Sorkin (“a financial columnist”!), writes toward the end “Teachers are not normal economic actors; almost all of them work for less money than they might fetch in some other industry”. A quick Google search brings up this reasonably thorough study, which comes to the conclusion that public school teachers are paid more than comparable workers in private jobs (a conclusion consistent with the fact that there are many more people who want to be teachers and have the qualifications than there are jobs). The fact-checkers (if there are any at the NYT) wouldn’t even have needed to search the Web but could have poked around in their own archives for stories such as “Still Doing the Math, but for $ 100K a Year” from 2009 (about teachers getting as much as $ 130,000 per year, plus benefits and pensions, in the economic wasteland of Rochester, New York).
Wikipedia says that Sorkin went to an expensively funded public high school (Scarsdale) and then an expensive college (Cornell). So his analytical skills are presumably about as good as what an American of his generation can develop.