Bill Gates Calls for Overhauling Teacher Pay SystemBill Gates delivered a speech Friday criticizing school pay structures, and urging the 50 state superintendents of education to end teacher pay increases based on seniority and education level.

In a speech to the Council of Chief State School Officers in Louisville, Ky., the Microsoft (MSFT) founder argued that teacher seniority is costly, yet it has only a modest effect on student achievement.

"The pay increases that teachers get for years of service account for 10% of total school expenditures," he said. "On a budget of $500 billion, that means $50 billion is paid out every year for something that has little correlation with student achievement."

School spending has faced increased scrutiny in communities nationwide since the recession began, despite the $100 billion in stimulus money allocated towards public education. In recent years, Gates has turned his attention towards addressing education reform through his philanthropic organization, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Gates also questioned the practice of paying higher salaries to teachers with advanced degrees, because a teacher's level of education has little bearing on student achievement.

Instead, Gates urged state education officials to restructure the nation's public education budgets based on excellence.

"What if we introduced a new element in the pay structure that builds on the excellence we already see in the system?" he asked. "What if we identified the most effective teachers and offered them extra pay for taking on more students, or teaching kids who are behind, or teaching in the toughest schools?"

Gates also suggested that increasing class sizes could help save money, suggesting that it wouldn't negatively impact students if the increases were offset by technological innovations that enable educators to customize their teaching to each student's needs.

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Steve King

Interesting article, but Mr Gates misses the real point. Parental involvement is still the key to student success, regardless of the nature of the pay system--it's been proven over and over again. Still, I wonder what criteria would be applied in Mr Gates' solution to determine what had actually been achieved? Test scores? A lot of states use this method, but it inevitably results in "answers" being taught at the expense of a genuine learning experience. I think he's on the right track by attacking our nation's learning issues, but at the end of the day there's going to have to be an awakening among our parents if we ever expect to achieve any permanent result. The state simply isn't equipped to raise our children and we're wrong to vest in it that level of responsiblity.

November 27 2010 at 11:49 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Jon must be a union teacher since you seem very angry to defend the cause...additionally I can tell because of the quality of language you use in your I know where the kids get it from.

November 26 2010 at 9:06 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I appluade Bill Gates for his comments. Finally, someone who makes absoltely perfect sense. This thinking shouldn't stop with teachers either. Americans feel that because they are tenured, its a pay increase of entitlement and not performance. Keep on this Bill....maybe we need you in the office of President of the US than the other Harvard person presently in there. Interested in the job?

November 26 2010 at 9:01 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Gary Pisani

Money is needed to keep good teachers highly educated & motivated .One of the greatest bearing on student achivement starts with the parents at home.Teachers are hindered with usless SAT tests set by state & fed.government as to monies based on test results.Good teachers & even great teachers cannot affect every student they come in contact with.We need more input from teachers & educators not government & people like Mr.Gates who never had to teach for a living.Bill Gates instead of talking to superintendents you should talk to teachers & see what they can & cannot do due to regulations they have to deal with.

November 25 2010 at 5:09 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

I agree....teachers are paid far too much.....but its a good thing! Because they have to spend so much of their own money for school supplies. If teachers do get a cut in pay.....take that excess money and put it in school that teachers don't have to spend their own money to buy them! If that can't be done.....then by all means......LEAVE TEACHER PAY ALONE!

November 24 2010 at 9:45 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply

How does a "non-professional teacher" get off telling administrators how to run schools and ADD student/teacher ratios when he has consistently sent his kids to private schools with lower student /teacher ratios? It is not all about technology its about people who will someday be our leaders in this country, or parents or just great workers even. You can teach things by technology but some things need to be mentored personally and with feeling! Mr. Gates don't make it even more impersonal than it already is.

November 24 2010 at 3:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to susieq's comment

I agree Suzie. Teaching is one of the few professions everybody seems to think anyone can do. You don't hear John Q Public walk up to a doctor or l and tell him how to do his job.

November 25 2010 at 11:01 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
Steve King

Actually, Susieq, what norrin96 says isn't entirely true. I frequently walk up to doctors and tell them how to do their job. Just sayin.

November 27 2010 at 11:56 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Bill Gates wants teachers to get paid by ability, not senority and education level. Good idea Bill. Now if we could have CEO's, COO's, presidents of large corporations get paid for their company"s performance, not because they are members of the "Good Old Boys" club, that would save all of us a heck of a lot of money Too.

November 24 2010 at 3:24 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply

Good luck with that idea Bill. Even if you are one of the richest people on the planet the unions will discount your comments. Even if bill did not say it he is suggesting that teachers get paid and advanced by merit and the union had always been dead set against that system. This concept was the driving force behind no child left behind and has not been implemented and largly ignored. It is largly up to a parent as to the level of education your child gets no matter where they go to school.

November 24 2010 at 2:27 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
John Vilvens

Teacher work 9 to 10 months a year. They can retire with 80% of thier pay after 25 years. This is not being addressed as SS retirement age is going to be raise to 69 or 70. Teacher retire before they are 55 and the tax payer pay thier retirement, social security retirement age is 69 and they have funded it themself. Is this progressives taking care of union works. If not why would this be happening?

November 24 2010 at 9:45 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to John Vilvens's comment

Not totally true, John. What you're saying may vary from state to state. In the state of Illinois, you have to work thirty five years to get the pension you're describing. Twenty to twenty five years for police and firemen and they get far better benefits, as they probably should; however, don't get me started on the retirement packages for elected and government officials/

November 25 2010 at 10:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Our school system actually cut out school nurses, two art teachers and a few maintenance positions to cut costs but then turned around and bought 5 new buses and all new uniforms and equipment for the sports teams including $55,000 worth of scoreboards. WTF ?????????? Cut out the crap and pay the teachers! Look at how much education a teacher needs compared to their compensation - the education requirements is up there where Medical professionals, CEO's, and other upper management positions are. But their pay falls considerably short. Again- you get what you pay for!

November 24 2010 at 7:34 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply