Build a Better Way To Blow 5 Grand

I've put up a few posts suggesting that Ed Schools, like Teach For America, charge "finders fees" for the teachers they send out into the world. Commenter Tim writes:

Finders fees do occur in other types of grad schools. For instance, at my alma mater, the computer science department made the major software firms pay the department a heavy premium just to talk to their students, and then made them guarantee the recruits a significant bonus above the usual pay grade once hired, kind of like Dice-K (whoops, bad example).

It would probably work for any industry/department flush with cash where there is heavy competition for human capital. Convincing districts and schools that this is the type of human capital they want, and that your school can consistently produce it, is the hard part.

Are large urban districts flush with cash? Hm. Complicated. At face value, most report budgets with big deficits.

Let's set aside (for now) what's underneath those numbers (it's a deficit if step-plus-annual raises continue at 6% while revenue falls).

Even within that austerity budget, professional development (I'm told) runs $5,000 per teacher per year. (And that evidently excludes raises teachers get for sitting through this stuff).

Some of that $5,000 per year goes to Ed Schools. For one-off classes. Amass 15 credits (5 classes?), get a raise. It's a doom loop. Some schoolteachers just sit there; seat time is a silly way to drive raises. Therefore some profs see the low effort and then they phone it in, too. Why try hard with folks who aren't really there to learn? It's a poisonous cycle (which needs to be fixed, but that's for another day).

Think about it. A district can spend a one-time finders fee of $5,000 for a quality teacher. Or they can continue to take some teachers who arrive to the job philosophically opposed to the district's approach to teaching and learning, and then try to spend $5,000 per year for many years to change their minds.

Tim, your Yale MBA program evidently has led you to raise a good point: convincing districts and schools that you are generating the types of teachers they want. Those are high transaction costs.

My solution? Ed School offers money back guarantee. No questions asked. Eliminates much need for front-end convincing.

Think about even that guarantee. Rational behavior by Ed School? Identify in October your flailing grads. Provide coaching. Maybe you "rescue" some of them, "flip" them from rejects (which cost you $5,000) to decent. Kids win, district wins, Ed School wins.