Why teacher merit pay can’t work today–and what can be done about this

"It would be intellectually dishonest to suggest that schools can imitate the flexibility that businesses have while retaining the burden we require of our public institutions," Rosenblatt writes.

Having spent two decades working in the private sector before running for our local school board, I was unaccustomed to a school district’s degree of openness. Like most public agencies, ours is essentially an open book—all of our board meetings are held in public (with limited exceptions), all of our contracts are public, vendor bidding is public, all decisions are made public, and all employees’ salaries are public.

That makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it? We use tax dollars as our main source of income. We are stewards and trustees of these taxpayer dollars. And we must hold ourselves accountable to the taxpayers for the prudent use of that money. We must be transparent. There are only a few exceptions allowing for secrecy, including areas such as student discipline, employee discipline, and discussions of lawsuits.

For me, transparency took some getting used to, as business interactions are by and large secret. Secrecy allows businesses to shield the “sausage making” process from their stakeholders, make decisions much more quickly, and pick and choose which information to make public or even disclose to their own employees. Through my straddling of both the private-sector and public-sector worlds, I have noticed that most people don’t think through the implications of these fundamental differences on how an organization can be managed. Although these contrasts should not be used as an excuse to defend poorly performing public institutions or public representatives, simply saying “just do it the way business does it” ignores reality. There is a fundamental difference between learning from private organizations and copying them.…Read More

Merit pay for teachers in Indiana school districts raise questions

If your child’s teacher seems a little bit on edge this year, it might not be your imagination. Education reforms now going into effect in Indiana, and similar ones sweeping the nation, are targeting something many Americans consider to be strictly off-limits: their paychecks, according to the Hechinger Report. The laws passed in 2011 and being implemented over the next two or three years were partly based on the principle of merit pay. Under Indiana’s new law, the state will ask that test performance of students be factored into pay raises for the first time. That is a major shift away from the rigid pay tables in most school districts that awarded raises primarily based on a teacher’s years of experience and the academic degrees they earned…

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Opinion: Teachers unions should applaud merit pay initiatives

Why are teachers unions afraid or performance evaluations and merit based pay? None of the arguments offered in opposition commercial and literature holds water and many of the comments made about what Ohio Issue 2 (Senate Bill 5) will do are even correct, says Tara Dodrill for Yahoo! News. All of the unsafe working conditions and inability to negotiate on classroom size and related issues are false and really do not even deserve to be discussed anymore. Anyone who has actually bothered to read the bill already understands the scope and limitations of the pending fiscally responsible legislation. Performance evaluations, merit pay and annual bonuses awarded based on academic progress at the best thing which could happen to teachers…

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