Mayor Martin O’Malley of Baltimore must be a huge sports fan or a desperate gubernatorial candidate. What other logical reason could there be for his latest proposal to offer $200,000 signing bonuses to attract principals to the lowest-performing schools in Maryland?
O’Malley who is attempting to unseat Republican governor Bob Ehrlich in November has been stung by reports that show several Baltimore schools near the bottom of the state’s performance lists. So he has a typical liberal answer in an election year which is to throw money at the problem .
The bonus program will cost an estimated $10 million dollars per year and will be paid out over four years to make sure the principals stay on the job. Are the schools so bad that there is a great danger that principals will flee after they get their bonus money? Apparently so. Forgive me though for not having a lot of sympathy for the principals and their average $100,000 salaries.
I have seen a lot of large signing bonuses given to athletes over the years by teams thinking that attracting a great player will turn their team around. The strategy often fails because the team owners focus on one person and not building a team. So if the state pays bonuses to the principals why wouldn’t the teachers ask for a bonus to teach at a low-performing school? What about those already teaching at these schools? Do they get a bonus or does it apply only to new hires?
These are just a few questions that the plan doesn’t address making it a questionable idea at best.
Maybe if O’Malley actually spent time in the schools to see what really ails them rather than trying to pander to the public (Oops, sorry that’s what he is best at) then maybe he would be able offer a workable solution.
Don Irvine is the chairman of Accuracy in Media, Accuracy in Academia’s parent organization.