Thursday, September 20, 2007

More on Teacher Performance Pay

Andrew Rotherham notes:
But, too often in education that complexity is held up as a reason not to innovate. I get uncomfortable with "performance-pay" being seen as test for toughness and something to be done to teachers rather than for the profession, but we do know that the current system of teacher compensation is not only unaligned with the broader goals of the education system (student learning) but actually works at cross-purposes with those goals. So, let's find out what works better to recognize and reward performance.
I will agree that some education reformers look at performance pay as a means of punishing teachers or as a short cut to "accountability."

Even casual readers of this blog will quickly find that I am a big supporter of performance pay for teachers. Like Rotherham, I worry that opposition to performance pay based on the argument that it is too complex is a cop out. For a nation that put a man on the moon less than ten years after being challenged, I find it difficult to think we cannot solve this rather mundane problem of how to reward teachers for the job they do.

Teacher hold an unusual position in society. They are entrusted with imparting knowledge, customs and mores to our children, yet they are not compensated along the same lines as other professional entrusted with out culture traditions or personal well-being, i.e. professionals like doctors, lawyers, engineers or other learned professions. Part of the problem, as I have pointed out is that "associations" that are supposed to represent the interests of teachers fail to engage on an issue as basic as their compensation, arguing that collective bargaining rights are more important than actual compensation for teachers.

I would love to pay teachers $75,000 or even $100,000 per year. I have no problem with bonuses for outstanding achievement or extra duties. I believe we can formulate a process by which objective and subjective evaluations of teacher performance can lead to performance pay. But note that I always call it performance pay, that is I expect performance for the pay. If you a teacher is not measuring up to his or her peers, why then should I as a taxpayer continue to fund that salary?

Performance pay should not be imposed on teachers. Teachers should want the performance pay, but you can't have your cake and eat it too. With performance pay must come a mechanism by which teachers can be dismissed for failure to perform. There must be a quid pro quo.

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