The Hoover Education Success Initiative (HESI) hosted the first in a six-part webinar series that explores how public education can improve amidst the disruption of in-person instruction caused by COVID-19-inspired restrictions.

The session, entitled “Will Increasing Teacher Pay Harm Students?,” featured Eric Hanushek, the Hoover Institution’s Paul and Jean Hanna Senior Fellow; Holly Boffy, District 7 representative of the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education; and Kent McGuire, program director of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. Christopher Ruszkowski, distinguished policy fellow at the Hoover Institution, was the moderator of the discussion.


Hanushek begins the conversation by emphasizing how school closures have exacerbated disparities in outcomes between schools that have quality teaching forces versus those that do not. In his remarks, Hanushek references an essay he wrote for HESI in January 2019, “The Unavoidable: Tomorrow’s Teacher Compensation.”

In the webinar, Hanushek argues that in order to make up for across-the-board learning losses over the past year and a half, schools will have to be made better than they were prior to the pandemic. He maintains that a key factor for the improvement of the K–12 education system is for schools to increase the supply of effective teachers through generous compensation packages.

Boffy agrees with Hanushek’s recommendation on teacher pay and also emphasizes that attracting people to the profession would greatly depend on restructuring a greater proportion of compensation in favor of front-end salary increases instead of retirement benefits. However, she believes that such a change isn’t likely to occur in the short term, because it largely lacks political support.

Hanushek also asserts that school systems should lower the barrier of entry for people aspiring to join the teaching profession, while tying their employment and pay to student performance. He explains that research evidence has demonstrated that student assessments are valuable measures of teacher performance. Where this data isn’t available, teacher evaluations conducted by third-party auditors have also proven effective.

McGuire concurs with Hanushek that holding teachers to high standards and increasing competitiveness within the profession will improve educational outcomes for students. However, McGuire adds that more needs to be done to prevent the best teachers from leaving for other industries.

Finally, the panelists all maintain that disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have created the opportunity for school systems to reallocate their teaching force so that individual professionals can specialize across instructional modes —in person, virtual, or hybrid —according to their strengths.



Holly Boffy, District 7 Representative, Louisiana Board of Elementary & Secondary Education: Holly Boffy is serving her third term as a member of BESE.  She is the founder of EdTalents, a human capital development organization, and previously worked for six years at the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO).  A middle school teacher for over a decade, she was Louisiana’s State Teacher of the Year in 2010.

Kent McGuire, Program Director, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Education: Kent McGuire leads investments for teaching and learning and open education resources strategies at the Hewlett Foundation.  Previously he served as President and CEO of the Southern Education Foundation and as the Dean of the College of Education at Temple University.  He was Assistant Secretary at the USDOE during the Clinton administration.

Eric Hanushek, Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution: Eric Hanushek is Chair of the Hoover Education Success Initiative (HESI) and the Paul and Jean Hanna Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution.  He pioneered measuring teacher quality on the basis of student achievement and his work on school efficiency is central to debates about school finance adequacy and equity across America today.


Christopher N. Ruszkowski, Hoover Education Success Initiative (HESI): Christopher Ruszkowski is a Distinguished Policy Fellow at the Hoover Institution, where he has helped establish HESI.  He served as Secretary of Education for the State of New Mexico under Governor Susana Martinez, Associate Secretary of Education for the State of Delaware under Governor Jack Markell and now serves as CEO of Meeting Street Schools.

The Hoover Education Success Initiative (HESI) focuses on providing state leaders with sound research-based recommendations to improve education in America.

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