North Carolina Bags Incentive Program

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The North Carolina House of Representatives announced this week that they have cut $3 million from the state budget that had been ear-marked for a teacher incentive program. The program provided up to $1,800 to math, science and special education teachers willing to work in low achieving schools.

Why did it fail? Some blame poor publicity for the program (surveys indicated that very few teachers had even heard of the program). Others, most notably Carolyn McKinney, president of the North Carolina Association of Educators, questioned whether incentives work.

If you ask us (or, better yet, check out Hanushek, Kain and Rivkin, 2004), anyone who thinks teachers will teach in the toughest schools for $1,800 has never been in a low-performing, under-resourced school. If districts expect to see change, then they need to look at ways of comprehensively restructuring their systems of compensation so as to provide real incentives instead of just putting a small band-aid on a gaping wound.