Barack Obama and Merit Pay for Teachers

President Obama today came out for merit pay for teachers, so as to reward the best teachers and promote competition among teachers for excellence in the classroom.

As an educator myself, the concept of merit pay sounds very appealing.  I certainly do NOT believe in blindly backing the National Education Association in its opposition to any major change in the way teachers are judged. 

However, I also see REAL problems with Obama’s approach.  The method of judging excellence is in reality a very subjective one, which can involve politics and personalities.  And the question arises:  Should a teacher be considered for merit pay solely on the basis of student performance?  I would say NO to that, as I am well aware that even the best teachers at any level still have limited impact on a student’s performance.  It is still the responsibility of the students and their parents that homework  is completed and to come to school with the right attitude and desire to learn.  Fighting a lackadaisical attitude by students and parents can be overwhelming even for the best teachers.  Nothing can guarantee good results on testing, but yet the concept of merit pay seems to be based on student performance alone. 

Certainly, teachers who disrespect their students and are lazy and have no desire for excellence should leave the teaching profession, but a teacher’s own drive and motivation and seriousness of purpose and dedication MUST be part of the equation of judging for merit pay, not just student performance which can also be artificial and manipulated and often has been in the past.

It all comes down to what Colin Powell said today on a CNN interview:  Students have to have the right attitude and motivation, and parents need to put the burden on their kids to PERFORM and show respect for teachers and authority.  Even the best teaching must be based on more than pure test scores, if we are to gain the best and the brightest in the teaching profession in the future.

2 comments on “Barack Obama and Merit Pay for Teachers

  1. BS-Killer-​BS March 10, 2009 7:35 pm

    Oh my God, you finally disagreed with Obama and the dems….I knew this day would come, but I didn’t expect it so soon.

    Forgive my hysterical sarcastic tone…

    I fully support everything you said in this post, but my follow-up question is….

    What’s your plan? How do you fix education on a nation-wide scope and most importantly, how do you sell it to the middle-american?

    My recomendation to Obama would have been to avoid this topic as a whole…Fund college, fund head-start, but until everything else you want is done, ignore K-12 on a federal level. Give money, avoid rules.

    It may be just me, but this will be the most effective plank on the republican’s election ticket 4 years from now. There in no single answer that fixes the problem at a federal level.

    MY solution would be adding more tennets to the standardized tests that are required by "no child." Instead of just reading,and math, – add history, civics, all the sciences, writing, and most importantly, logic and reasoning. If you test on everything, no one can teach to the test. Then you can link the student’s results to the individual teacher and compare it to the other teachers in the same building and on community averages, reginal averages, and state averages. The bonus schedule should be extreamly complicated but fundamentally based on their students test scores.

    Yes one bad apple, or one excellent apple might make a difference from paycheck to paycheck, but on average, the better teachers will get payed more

  2. I am a JUNIOR IN HIGH SCHOOL and I DON’T think merit pay is right… April 20, 2011 2:12 pm

    Just because a student gets a bad score/grade it’s not the teachers fault it’s the student who got the bad score/grade’s fault. If I get a bad score/grade i don’t blame the teacher I blame myself. If students get low scores/grades it shouldn’t be up to the teacher to fix it. I think it’s wrong that teachers can be fired for the scores/grades their students get.
    PARENTS are more responsible for their kids’ grades/scores THAN TEACHER are. At home some parents don’t care about scores/grades so then the kid doesn’t care. Then they get bad scores and the teacher is the one blamed not the student or parent.
    Here are many questions I have for whoever came up with this…
    What happens to teachers that have all special needs students? Or what happens if the student is just a bad test taker? What if the student doesn’t care? What happens when a group of students don’t like a certain teacher and decide to get bad grades to get the teacher fired?
    These are just a few questions that I have alone…
    I know there are many more I just hope that government STOPS merit pay all together it’s NOT RIGHT OR FAIR TO OUR HARD WORKING TEACHERS!

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