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Tom B
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Posted - 01/28/2010 :  10:39:40 PM  Show Profile  Visit Tom B's Homepage  Reply with Quote Report Abuse

Note: The following is MY opinion only, and certainy does not reflect the views or action of Monroe Local Schools.

[i]Originally posted by lak713[/i]
[br]Merit pay for teacher performance is problematic because there is NO fair way to implement it across grade levels, content areas, special ed areas, etc.

I am sorry if this sounds harsh, but I just don't buy that. Fairness? How is today's system fair, where everyone receives the same salary reward, regardless of how they perform? How is it fair to lay off some of your best talent, while keeping lower performing people simply because they are higher on the seniority system? How is that best for our kids? This is just my opinion, but teachers are either professional employees or they are not. Professional employees should be measured, evaluated, and rewarded based upon their performance.

It is management's job to know which employees are true drivers of improvement, and which are just along for the ride. I suspect our principals know this today. And if not, they most certainly should. In the commercial world, not only do managers make such performance driven salary decisions, but they also must determine which exempt employees to keep or lay off in a business downturn. It certainly is not fun for the manager who must make these decisions, but in my mind, it is simply part of the job.

The teachers who are in classrooms making a difference will do it with or without merit pay....it's simply not their motivator. If more money was actually offered for higher 'test' scores, there better be some value added data being considered and not just pass/fail percentages.

While I agree that money is not the primary driver of performance for our best employees, it certainly has some impact, and besides, it is only fair to reward our best performers over the mediocre ones. As you state, the best teachers will continue to do their best regardless, but how about the rest? Watching others pass you by in salary, based on their performance, is certainly a motivator.

I agree that it could be difficult to match individual teachers to student performance. But it is certainly easy to tie a group of employees to a group performance objective. For example, we have performance problems in the junior high. It would be easy to tie all of the Junior High staff's salary to the measured performance problems of the school. The same is true of our other schools.

Blame unions if you'd like...what I can say is from personal experience. I was a union rep for five years in CPS and they broke ground across the nation by creating and implementing a new peer evaluation system. More teachers were terminated, mentored, or non-renewed in the first several years than previously by principal evaluations alone.

Frankly I have always wondered just what the union does for teachers or any government employees for that matter. Federal and state laws pretty much define the conditions under which an employee can be dismissed. It is great protection, leaving me to wonder just what the union provides them.

It may sound harsh I know, but there is a real benefit in tying salary and continued employment to performance. It would require a huge paradigm shift. School administrators today have no idea how to work in such an environment, but that does not mean they can't learn its advantages and how to make it work. The business world has managed to do so.

Tom Birdwell

Opinions written here are mine alone, and may not reflect the views of other board members.

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