Why Teachers Won’t Get A Real Raise

By Dominick Cooper, Director and Lead Creative Tutor of Launch Academy, Winner of the DaVinci Scholar Award, and University Guest Speaker

Alright, so here’s the gist:

Teachers get paid by districts (not principals) and these districts get “paid” by the state government, which has to follow national standards.  Principals are “quality control,” making sure everyone and everything is up to par.

Got it? Good. Remember it.

Now, a little (BUT SUPER IMPORTANT) history lesson:

Public Education was created during the industrial revolution and in the midst of the Period of the Enlightenment.  If you want to know more about how these two, incredibly important facts shaped education, check out this blog right here, but the main point is this:  This environment paved the way for why we teach math and English almost exclusively and why the school system is constructed in its current “factory style.”

Now, going back to how public education is very much guided by the national agenda, any boss needs to see some type of proof that their company is working.  That’s just good business.  Standardized tests were quick, measurable, objective, and able to be categorized, so they were the natural choice for assessment.  This showed a nice, quick, excel-document ready snapshot of a student’s academics.

But what to measure and how we should measure it and teach?

Well, that swings on two hinges: the curriculum and the teaching style/environment.

Everyone needed to readily be able to pull up selective knowledge but also be flexible enough to fill a variety of career paths, so the curriculum was built around this.

Also, students needed to learn how to follow directions, obey their superiors, and be self-sufficient in completing tasks, so that’s how teachers were trained to teach and school environments were designed.

But these statutes were designed over 60 years ago, and guess what:

The world has changed.

From computers to entertainment to iPhones to even government and economic structures, everything has changed. Drastically.

And these changes are only accelerating. We thus need to teach new skills to face this brave new world, as Daniel Pink calls it. So, while there is definitely a need to reinvent the curriculum and the teacher preparation process (which will be addressed in a later blog), the problem can be summed up in this:

The problem is not the test scores.  The problem is what we are testing.

This is why teachers won’t get a real raise.  They are trying to teach kids skills that are inherently counter-productive to 21st century needs – memorize this, what is this obscure date, what’s the formula for table salt, etc.  So the teachers who teach to these tests do create great test-takers but also create ghosts of critical thinking.  Even if teachers produced home-run kings of testing, their product would be inherently flawed, which no boss would view as meriting a pay increase.

And we can’t forget one of the most major skills that is missed 99% of the time in schools.

Creativity.  How can you measure that?  Thousands of CEOs from high-profile companies said that creativity is the number one characteristic of future CEOs and business leaders, yet we don’t even have a way of assessing it.

Education is the key to success in life – whether to lock it away or unlock it.  From various revolutionaries such as Sir Ken Robinson and Tony Wagoner, we do know what these new 21st century skills are.  While the situation is currently bleak, I leave with a call to action.  A call to success.


While we already do focus on these 21st century skills like creativity, collaboration, and self-efficacy at Launch Academy, find ways to start them in your own life.  Draw more.  Think outside of the box.  Dream bigger and deeper.  Meet new people.  Take your dream and run with it.

True education is the key to unlocking your success – use it.


Stay Smart.


Recommended Posts
Contact Us

We're running around, changing education. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap!