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Are we short-changing our future? The economic imperative of attracting great teachers

September 21, 2011



Great teachers have the ability to transform and enrich the lives and living standards of Americans. According to recent research, a student’s kindergarten teacher has long-lasting influence on important lifetime outcomes, such as future earnings. These effects are so important that the difference between having an above-average kindergarten teacher and a below-average kindergarten teacher could translate into a difference of more than $300,000 in future earnings for a classroom of 20 students (Chetty et al. 2010). Therefore, continuing to attract and retain the most effective teachers is a necessary step in raising the achievement of American students. But attracting highly-effective teachers is an increasing challenge as today’s teachers are asked to do more than ever before and because the most salient form of teacher pay—salaries—has been in relative decline.


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