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Merit Pay

Mr. McNamar over at The Daily Grind brings up the subject of merit pay and how he wants it. Would you?
 
A couple of years ago, I wrote a post about the so-called teacher shortage. Every year there articles and news stories about the declining numbers of teachers (who are almost always dumber too!) and with gobs to current teachers retiring, no one will be left to teach Little Johnny (who can't read). In these discussions, merit pay is almost always brought up as a way to attract teachers. Especially to those districts in areas where test scores are particularly low.
 
My problem with these ideas is that:
                  1. There is no teacher shortage. Plenty of districts get hundreds of applications for every single job opening. Some districts barely get one for 100's of openings.
                  2. Few teachers going into teaching because they want to be wealthy. The ability to live, buy a home and a car while feeding the kids - yes... but no one thinks they're going to buying a mansion in Aruba.
                  3. More money does NOT make it all better. (yes, I know that is spoken by someone who has access to a working photocopier)
 
Let's look at number one, because I think it really speaks to the issue of merit pay. Merit pay is a much bigger issue in districts/schools where students perform badly on tests, graduation rates, job retention and life in general. These are also districts/schools that have a hard time attracting qualified teachers into their ranks. Their retention rate for teachers isn't that great either. Why is it that these districts/schools/public officials never ask themselves why a district/school in a similarly populated area gets hundreds of applications every year and almost never advertises for staff, while they attend every teacher recruitment event in the nation? Hmmmm... could it be things like the ability to make photocopies on a reliable basis? Have toilet paper IN the bathroom? Not be punched for telling a student to turn off a cell phone? Teach instead of reading a script? A principal that has respect for the teachers and treats them like professionals? A classroom that is stocked with items purchased during this century?
 
Perhaps if teachers were treated with respect, professionalism and not like greedy little children who must be controlled at all times, merit pay wouldn't be necessary.

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