Merit pay for teachers

I understand the correlation between good schools and property values and the need to support the teaching professionals for all their hard work. There is also no denying the fact that teachers (as with any other professionals) need to get annual COLA raises.

But I find it interesting that while the unions are arguing for fair wages, the very same folks are also resisting the implementation of merit pay (not sure if this applies specifically to AUSD, but there appears to be an opposition to this concept in many parts of the country). However, as a recent NYT article points out, the opposition appears to be waning.

First the usual (tired?) excuses:

Merit pay, or compensating teachers for classroom performance rather than their years on the job and coursework completed, found some support in the 1980s among policy makers and school administrators, who saw it as a way to encourage good teachers to work harder and to weed out the bad ones. But teachers saw it as a gimmick used by principals to reward cronies based on favoritism.

Favoritism? Perhaps I’m naive, but how hard can it be to decipher how students perform on standardized tests and tie the teachers compensation to these scores?

More union-speak:

The positions of the two national teachers’ unions diverge on merit pay. The National Education Association, the larger of the two, has adopted a resolution that labels merit pay, or any other pay system based on an evaluation of teachers’ performance, as ”inappropriate.”

The American Federation of Teachers says it opposes plans that allow administrators alone to decide which teachers get extra money or that pay individual teachers based solely on how students perform on standardized test scores, which they consider unreliable. But it encourages efforts to raise teaching quality and has endorsed arrangements that reward teams of teachers whose students show outstanding achievement growth.

Fortunately, all is not lost and there are some unions who are willing to give this a chance.

In 2004, the union worked with Mr. Pawlenty to bring a Milken Foundation initiative to three Minneapolis schools, including Seward Montessori, where Mr. Roper-Batker is one of about 50 teachers. He received a bonus of $2,131 after the first year, partly because he taught English in an intensive team effort that raised student scores. Student achievement has risen even more sharply at other schools participating in the program, officials said.

One Response to “Merit pay for teachers”

  1. Fred Simpleton Says:

    This is a complicated issue, and I suggest that you spend a day with a real teacher and try to understand their position on the issue. I have recently changed my mind on the issue where I used to favor merit “everything”

    There is a no reason that merit and seniority can’t cooexist, but people see them as polar opposites. I have learned that teachers do better work when they work together and collaborate on lesson planning and other areas. If you introduce a purely merit-based system, you will effectively stop that cooperation.

    When was the last time you saw “competing interests” working together in a corporate environment? I have never seen it throughout my almost 20 year career. You might get a couple of coworkers to work together for a while, but if they cooperate propoerly there is no way to establish the accomplishments of one over the other to get a merit increase or bonus.

    This would make a greate discussion on this site, you game???

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