Saturday, May 29, 2010

Pay for Performance

There's an interesting article on that details a new proposed "Pay for Performance" program. The actual details of the program are here.

I've long been interested in being able to reward teachers who truly inspire students, and make big contributions to our student population and our district's professional community. We have some teachers in our midst who have been spectacular. I personally know of a Math teacher who moves children from being afraid of math to looking forward to it each day, and competing in "Math Olympiads". We have teacher who stretches their fourth graders and introduces them to Shakespeare. We have teachers who, despite all the other schedule demands, find time to mentor new colleagues and create another generation of outstanding educators.

The proposed federal program provides up to $437m to fund "merit pay". It lays out that Teachers should continue to be paid a "professional base salary". That is, we're not trying to cut salaries to fund the program. I think this seems reasonable to most everyone involved in this discussion. All up, I'm excited that we're having this discussion.

On the other hand, I am troubled by the NEA's constant emphasis on seniority, and a highly antagonistic view of administrators. It seems disingenuous to say "trust us- teachers will always work hard, no matter what", but then to also say "but we can't trust our administrators to also behave as professionals."

Every time pay for performance is brought up, I hear someone tell me about a terrible principal who couldn't be trusted to evaluate accurately. Perhaps, by implementing something like this, it would highlight who the good administrators are, as well as who the good teachers are.

I'm interested in feedback on this topic. Instead of just telling me why it won't work, please make concrete suggestions for how we could make it possible. Ask yourself, "if someone were willing to pay me significantly more when I overachieve, how would I want them to know that I'd actually overachieved?"

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