Merit Pay Per The President?

Step back to 2009, Barack Obama makes the case for Merit Pay.

Here’s what he said in 2009: “It’s time to start rewarding good teachers, and stop making excuses for bad ones. It’s time to demand results from government at every level. It’s time to prepare every child, everywhere in America, to out-compete any worker, anywhere in the world.” Source: WUNC

Merit Pay for teachers in North Carolina and the removal of tenure has a lot of people talking.  Depending on who you ask, you get a different answer. Some say competition motivates continual improvement while others tout cooperation as the way.

Teacher of the Year for 2013-14, often considered a politically charged appointment, thinks that way:

Now here’s an actual, real life North Carolina Teacher of the Year, who, in a free market, would get paid more:

“First of all, I don’t think, as North Carolina Teacher of the Year, that I am the best teacher,” says Karyn Dickerson, an English teacher at Grimsley High School in Greensboro. “I think I simply represent a lot of the great teaching that I’ve seen in my school and in my district and, this year, traveling across the state that I’ve seen across the state. So, I think it’s very hard to classify who the best teacher is.”

Dickerson would prefer that entire schools of teachers get paid more based on performance, not individual teachers. She believes this would create an atmosphere of cooperation, not competition. – Source: WUNC

I question why do they have to be mutually exclusive? Aren’t education professionals constantly saying we need to help our students be more competitive? Then why doesn’t that competition apply to those helping them to achieve that end?  The reliance on tenure ensures a status quo effect — a level playing field of said ‘cooperation’. Many who support continuing teacher tenure are unaware that North Carolina’s tenure system for public school teachers in North Carolina consisted of just reaching just four years of continual employment.

For the record, I don’t think there are many out there who don’t believe teachers on the whole should be well compensated. At what level and what criteria definitions make up that compensation is really where the debate is. We know tying high stakes testing to their performance does not indicate what really goes on in their classroom. So the question remains, what mechanism can be used to determine teacher quality and effectiveness?  Enter the Educator Effectiveness and Compensation Task Force co-chaired by Senator Jerry Tillman. This taskforce’s purpose is, among other related items, to determine just that. You can read the full directives of this taskforce here.

Meanwhile a recent poll shows support for the Teacher Tenure Law. Full data sets here. Relevant section:

“Tenure – or career status – has traditionally been granted to teachers who successfully complete a three or four year probationary period. Tenure prohibits dismissal, demotion or removal except for violating one of fifteen stated criteria. Proponents say it is a safeguard against favoritism. Opponents say it makes it very difficult to remove ineffective teachers.  Do you favor or oppose the concept of tenure for teachers?”

45%     Total Favor

45%     Total Oppose

28%     Strongly Favor

17%     Somewhat Favor

17%     Somewhat Oppose

28%     Strongly Oppose

10%     Undecided/Don’t Know

I found the questions on spending per pupil interesting. In the United States, we’ve spent more per pupil every year for decades and which have produced little to no increase in results.  On this topic, I would strongly recommend picking up Glenn Reynold’s book: The K-12 Implosion.


About A.P. Dillon

A.P. Dillon is a reporter currently writing at The North State Journal. She resides in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_ Tips:
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