Center for American Progress

ADVISORY: Principal Pay Incentives: A Promising Reform?
Press Advisory

ADVISORY: Principal Pay Incentives: A Promising Reform?

Tuesday, December 04, 2007
Program: 9:00am to 10:30am
Admission is free.

A light breakfast will be served at 8:30 a.m.

Featured Panelists:

Dr. John E. Deasy, Superintendent, Prince George’s County Public Schools

Natalie Elder, Principal, Hardy Elementary School

Dr. Dan Goldhaber, Professor of Public Affairs, University of Washington

Moderated by:

Cynthia G. Brown, Director of Education Policy, Center for American Progress

A great deal hinges on the quality of people who lead America’s schools. It goes almost without saying that school reforms and improvements depend largely on strong principal leadership together with effective teachers. Yet while much emphasis has been placed on teachers, we know little about how to attract and retain high quality principals, especially for schools serving large numbers of low-income students. One strategy is to reform how principals are compensated. This seems particularly important when teacher pay reforms are also underway.

Prince George’s County, MD has a new federal grant to provide incentives to teachers and principals in low-performing schools. New York City offers a $25,000 raise to principals who teach for three years or more in a high-needs school and a $25,000 bonus based on student achievement. Yet we know little about whether these initiatives or others are likely to be effective. Why? While we know that principal leadership is critical, research tells us little about how to structure principal compensation effectively.

Please join us for a discussion and Q&A session on a new paper from the Center for American Progress by Dr. Dan Goldhaber and on principal pay initiatives in Chattanooga, TN and Prince George’s County, MD. Panelists will discuss the research on principal compensation, and their perspectives on how principal pay initiatives should be structured to attract high quality candidates to high poverty schools.


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Dr. John E. Deasy has been Chief Executive Officer of Prince George’s County Public Schools since May 2006. He leads an organization that offers more than 133,000 children an innovative, technology-infused curriculum that has produced significant academic gains. In his prior position as superintendent of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District in California, Dr. Deasy led district-wide reforms aimed at a highly focused set of strategies on the improvement of teaching and learning. These successful reforms resulted in dramatic improvement in student achievement for all categories of students and the closing of the achievement gap. Prior to this role, he served as superintendent of the Coventry Public Schools in Rhode Island for five years. Dr. Deasy also served as a high school principal in two communities, director of personnel, and assistant superintendent of schools. Dr. Deasy is a Broad Fellow and has been an Annenberg Fellow and State Superintendent of the Year. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Biology and Chemistry Education and a Master of Arts in Education Administration from Providence College, and a Doctor of Philosophy in Education from the University of Louisville. He has been and continues to be a faculty member in university doctoral programs in several states.

Natalie Elder has been a public school educator for 25 years. She was an elementary school teacher, a high school assistant principal, and is presently the principal of a year-round elementary school (Hardy Elementary in Chattanooga, Tennessee). She was named a recipient of the coveted Milken Educator Award in 2006. Ms. Elder was honored with this award because of her exceptional work as an educator. In 2005, the school achieved the highest academic gains in math and social studies among elementary schools in the entire state. She has been described as “being a model for the state and nation” by both the Tennessee Education Commissioner, Lana Seivers, and the President of the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching, Lew Solmon. Ms. Elder’s love and concern for today’s youth, especially in these urban settings, has been the driving force in fulfilling her vision of “excellence not average.”

Dr. Dan Goldhaber is a Professor of Public Affairs at the University of Washington’s Center on Reinventing Public Education, an Affiliated Scholar at the Urban Institute’s Education Policy Center, and a Senior Non-Resident Fellow at Education Sector. He also served as an elected member of the Alexandria City School Board from 1997-2002. His work focuses on issues of educational productivity and reform at the K-12 level, and the relationship between teacher labor markets and teacher quality. Dr. Goldhaber’s current research addresses teacher labor markets and the role that teacher pay structure plays in teacher recruitment and retention, the relationship between teacher licensure test performance and student achievement, the stability of teacher effectiveness measures over time, the influence of human resource practices on teacher turnover and quality, and the role of community colleges in higher education. Dr. Goldhaber’s research has been regularly published in leading peer-reviewed economic and education journals and the findings from these articles have been covered in more widely accessible media outlets such as National Public Radio, Education Week, The Washington Post, and USA Today. His work has been funded by the U.S. Department of Education, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Joyce Foundation, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, and numerous other private foundations. Dr. Goldhaber holds degrees from the University of Vermont (B.A., Economics) and Cornell University (M.S. and Ph.D., Labor Economics).

Cynthia G. Brown is Director of Education Policy and served as Director of Renewing our Schools, Securing our Future National Task Force on Public Education, a joint initiative of the Center and the Institute for America’s Future. Cindy has spent over 35 years working in a variety of professional positions addressing high-quality, equitable public education. Prior to joining the Center for American Progress, she was an independent education consultant who advised and wrote for local and state school systems, education associations, foundations, nonprofit organizations, and a corporation. From 1986 through September 2001, Brown served as Director of the Resource Center on Educational Equity of the Council of Chief State School Officers. She was appointed by President Carter as the first Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights in the U.S. Department of Education (1980) and prior to that position served as Principal Deputy of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare’s Office for Civil Rights. Subsequent to this government service, she was Co-Director of the nonprofit Equality Center, worked for the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights under Law, the Children’s Defense Fund, and began her career in the HEW Office for Civil Rights as an investigator.