Teacher Merit Pay

Hubby came home earlier this week and told me he’d stopped by a different branch of the local library than the one we usually go to, on the way in he was asked to sign a petition that would get the issue of teachers being paid by student performance rather than seniority on the ballot.  He laughed and walked away.  I love him!

Then on Friday we made our weekly trek to the usual branch of the library, me straight from work and hubby with the kiddo after picking him up from school.  As I stood returning things in the new electronic return slot I was asked to sign the same petition.  I was standing their in my school shirt and was asked.  I told the lady “You don’t want to ask me that!”  Her reply was that over half of the people that had signed it were teachers.  I wanted to say “OH really?  And you know this how?  And where do they teach?  Are the public school teachers?  Private school? Parochial school?  Homeschool?  Sunday School?”  but I didn’t I just said no.  She pushes on saying “It’s just to get the issue on the ballot.”  Gritting my teeth trying to remain civil I say “I don’t think the general public should make that decision I don’t think they’re educated enough on the subject.”

Hubby was asked on his way in, this time he not only laughed he said “No way man.” (I really really love him!) He also got the “half the people that have signed are teachers” reply.

UGH!!!  You know I wish my uncle, an amazing now retired teacher with over three decades of education experience would go by the library and come across this petition.  I’m sure he’d be much more eloquent than I would or could be.

Here’s the thing, if you’ve ever had a class that just happens to include several gifted students and then the next year have a class with several struggling students you know where I’m coming from.  One class simply can NOT be compared to the next!  Kids are different.

Parents that have more than one kid know this, or at least they should, though from the times I’ve heard “why can’t you be more like ______”said to a student tells me some just can’t accept it.  How would parents like to be graded on their child’s performance?  And guess what if one child does worse than the previous you’re grade goes down.

How about doctors?  I’ve seen this example online before say we paid doctors by the health of their patients so they make less for every obese patient, every patient that smokes, every patient with high cholesterol… you get the idea.  Doctors can’t control the choices their patients make.  They can make suggestions, they can get tough but that doesn’t mean anything would change.

Why oh why do people think it’s any different with children?  I’ve seen it at all ages, some kids struggle for unknown reasons, some kids just don’t care and no matter how hard you try, no matter what motivation you come up with they don’t change!  I’ve fought this battle numerous times through the years, I taught middle school a notorious time for students apathy.  I tore my hair out, cried (literally), screamed in frustration alone in my room, talked to kids individually, tried to tailor assignments, searched and searched for the right motivational tool.  Sometimes no matter how hard you try you just don’t reach the kid before they’re out of your class.

I had a student once come in with a shirt on that said “Genius by birth, slacker by choice.” I told him “It’s not funny when it’s true.”  and it was, this kid could have had straight As and come high school he did, but in middle school he just didn’t care and nothing I was going to do or say was going to change that.

Then there’s this:

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You expect me to differentiate my lessons and I do my best to do so but then you want to grade me based on the tests given to my students: standardized tests.  I’m supposed to teach to each student differently but give them all the same test?  And no matter what the make up of my class you want to pay me based on their performance?  It won’t matter that their parents are never home, tell them school is a waste of time but they have to go, or beat them.  It won’t matter if they have a major case of test anxiety, they didn’t score well because they came to school sick, hungry or grieving.  NO!   just can’t possibly agree to this and thank goodness for me most of the people I know can’t either.  I can only hope we outnumber those that think “Well if we pay teachers based on their students’ performance they’ll try harder.”  Yeah that’ll work because I’m sure those teachers in failing schools aren’t trying.  My students did not do as well as I knew they could on the state standardized test year after year and I was at a loss.  I attended workshop after workshop, tried strategies that worked in other schools similar to mine, worked with kids one-on-one, researched every chance I got, cried every damn year when the test scores came out.  Believe me paying me more could not have motivated me to try harder!  We have to let go of this notion, it simply is not the solution to the perceived problems.

Ok I’m out of words here, time to go to bed.  Any other teachers out there coming across this?  Is it big in your area?  Just what do you think?

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1 Comment

  1. Pingback: Dying student has to prove he can’t take state test | One Educator's Opinion

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