Monday, June 18, 2007

Performance based pay for teachers

June 2007 - With a family of educators around me, performance based pay is a subject that lies close to my heart. I see how hard they work (most nights and weekends during the school year) and feel they need to be paid for their hard work. The fact that teachers are rewarded by years of service instead of their performance bothers me. I'm of the group of people who believe Employee A should not be paid the same as Employee B. One of the two is doing a better job and should be rewarded.

According to a New York Times article (Long Reviled, Merit Pay Gains Among Teachers) the National Education Association labels "merit pay, or any other pay system based on an evaluation of teachers' performance, as 'inappropriate.'"

What the National Education Association is telling us is, once you're tenured, sit back and relax. You're going to get paid the same whether you make a difference in a young person's mind or not.

There is absolutely no reason why Teacher A, who's primary goal for the week is leaving at 3:04PM on Friday, should be paid the same as Teacher B who: shows up early to welcome kids and develop their lesson plans; participates in after school focus groups; sends weekly emails to parent reviewing the week's highlights. Teacher B is worth more to the kids, school and society. They should be recognized and rewarded for their efforts.

Performance based pay has been going in corporate environments for years. Successful companies realize that not everyone is equal, and the compensation packages reflect the differentiation. I'm not paid as well as my contemporary across the hall. I don't mind as he is more skilled that me. On the other hand, I'm more skilled than some colleagues in my group, and as expected, paid more. The incentive is to increase your skills for a better reward, and it works.

The system is not without its faults as the current inflated executive compensation indicates. But, observed as a whole, performance based pay works as an incentive to increase motivation and skill levels. And that is just what the U.S. education system needs to ensure our children are getting the education they deserve.

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