We like going after the teachers, with their fat pay packets and summers off.
But we never pay enough attention to the fact that a lot of their students are a
big part of the problem. They're video game addled ADHD brats, living in a
society that entitles them way too much. Johnny can't read because Johnny
doesn't want to read and nobody wants to damage his self esteem and school
is for nerdy jerks anyway, and any effort on the part of the teacher to get
johnny to read is seen as bullying.
One may agree with Hutterite's comments. And there is certainly much
validitiy in that post. The best teachers however are the ones who can inspire
students to enjoy learning and start them om a quest to thirst after knowledge.
There is a fine art to teaching - and those who develop and know how to
effectively educate young minds/students will have a greater success rate than
those who dont.
They say there are two sides to every story, and this case proves it. Some
teachers really do a poor job, are lazy and/or incompetent. Given difficult
situations, they give up too easily. But, it is unfair to compare test scores
of teacher A's students, who have wealthy, two-parent, educated families,
and test scores of teacher B's students, who come from broken homes with
drug addicted guardians. It is true that teachers should be
"inspirational" and motivate achievement, but that is much more possible
with some students than others. Finally, to hold teachers more accountable for
students's grades then students for their own grades (especially older,
high school students) relieves students of their own accountability. It says to
students that you can blame someone else for your poor performance. Some
teachers may deserve criticism, but those who criticize ought to walk in their
shoes for a while first. It is naive to think that all students are motivatable,
although the best teachers can motivate more students.
As a parent, I've seen some fabulous teachers and some that really should
not have been teaching. Because of that, I don't have a problem with merit
pay for teachers. Most (all?) professionals other than teachers are paid based
on merit. I don't believe merit pay should be based 100% (or even close to
100%) on student test scores since scores are not totally under the
teacher's control (kids are not widgets.) I think principals know which
teachers are doing a good job and which aren't. School districts could
give the principal a flat amount of money to be distributed as the principal
determines. Test scores could be one factor that the principal considers, but
one of many, including observation and review of sampled student work. That
said, I am not demeaning teachers in any way. I would pay them much more than
they are currently being paid if it were up to me (and I back this up by voting
for people that feel the same way.)
It sounds very good to link performance with pay.However, within the
Federal Government, they tried that after many years of planning the process.
How do you measure performance. It is not always that easy in a service type of
industry as the government is. It had loop holes where the bosses friends got
the better ratings due to how the performance plan and appraisal was written and
who performed the rating and approval process. After 4-5 years,
after many complaints and union input into the process, Congress would not
approve money for that program and the administration took it away for the
Department of Defense. Should it be graded so that the best teacher
get's the prize? How do you judge what the best teacher is? Best test
scores of the student's? So then the school districts that cheated to get
paid better got low integrity scores? If they hadn't gotten caught no one
would be the wiser. However, did the person who identified the cheating get a
better performance for that job?If you produce so many widgets that
don't have faults is easy to judge. Dealing with many students isn't.
Fat paychecks. That's rich. I love the sarcasm there. You know, being a
teacher where I teach, I may see things a little differently than many of you.
If our pay is merit based, then we are going to be paid (or not) based on
students coming to me with 20% attendance, who just got back from a 2 month
"vacation" to Mexico, and don't speak any English. Is that right?
How much can an "exemplary" teacher do to counter that set of
circumstances? It's like saying a doctor should be paid based on his
treatment record for patients he talks to over the phone while they lie about
their symptoms. It's absurd, and before people say "this is a great
idea", they should put a little more thought into what exactly a system like
this would look like. You want great, experienced teachers? Why would anyone
stay teaching when we are penalized for fundamental breakdowns in life and the
lack of importance placed on education by the family which necessarily impact
our ability to do our job?
@vdubbin -- I agree with you for the most part -- you are exactly right about
not having control over your kids and their circumstances and that affects how
they perform in school. But I still think merit pay would work. It would just
have to be given based on more subjective standards and not on objective
standards like test scores. But that's how it is for everybody who is a
professional. I'm a lawyer. As a young lawyer I was paid based on how
well the partners I worked with thought I was performing. There was no
objective criteria. They just determined how I was doing and gave me raises
based on what they thought. Same with accountants in accounting firms. Your
boss decides how much of a raise you should get and that's what you get.
Why shouldn't teachers be treated the same way? Maybe there's a
reason, and if so, let me know. I think good teachers are priceless and I would
pay them way more than they get now. I think it would increase morale to be
paid more as a reward for doing a great job.