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  1. #1

    Merit pay in education

    Well, everyone is just pushing merit pay in education, and it seems like it will come to be.

    This idea just breaks my heart. The idea that some test can be administered and it will accurately judge what a teacher has taught, judge whether a teacher has been SUCCESSFUL, is just mind-blowing. Never mind that a kid can come in with no breakfast... never mind that a parent can be neglectful... never mind that a kid can be special ed and barely ever to read... never mind that a kid can just decide they don't feel like performing on a certain day, or some kids have been taught not to care by their parents, or that students can be homeless and have their mind occupied with a lot more than a 20 minute essay about why students should wear uniforms in school.

    Unfortunately, this sort of thing just makes me say I will never again read Romeo and Juliet or 1,001 Arabian nights or the Norse and Greek myths to my kids.

    I will never again teach my students to read with emotion, or allow them to experiment with crafting a gripping story arc.

    I will never again bother with bringing in Civil War artifacts so my kids can touch the sweat stains of a man long dead, or discussing the discovery of a species thought long extinct.

    I will never again bring in world-famous cheese experts to give the kids a taste of something new, or writers to give them a bit of insight how much heart and soul and sweat goes into a piece of writing.

    I will never again bother to teach about Dr. King or Cesar Chavez or Lucretia Mott, about people who fought and sacrificed to make our country, our lives, what they are.

    I will never again teach my sixth graders throw a game of kickball to bunch of excited third graders and learn to grin while doing it, or have them sit next to a first grade book buddy and help them with a tough word.

    I will never again bother to be a confidant or a mentor or a trusted adviser, someone who former students come back to visit years after they've left.

    Nope... because NONE of this will be on the tests.

    Nope... I'll be forced to drill and kill exactly what is on the tests, over and over and over. I will be forced to churn out little test taking robots, because if I do not I will not be able to afford college for my own kids, I will not be able to afford to live within an hour of where I work.

    I am so terribly upset by this. I hope that folks on a Duke site, many of whom are fellow Duke alumni, find it as painful as I.
    Last edited by Lord Ash; 05-10-2010 at 05:00 PM.

  2. #2
    my fiance is a teacher, and cant stand the idea of merit pay. she has at least two kids in her class that desperately need special services, but the parents are in denial. since the parents are in denial, she can do nothing other than watch them fail ... and somehow its on her?

    She happens to teach in a district that traditionally produces good scores. Her friend teaches in a district that has over 90% of its students on free and reduced lunches and the familial emphasis on education just isnt there. For her friend, having 60% of her students move on to the next grade comfortably is a big coup. For my fiance, such numbers would warrant immediate termination. How is that going to be taken into account in all of this?
    My Quick Smells Like French Toast.

  3. #3
    It is an issue on which I am torn. I am a former teacher and former school administrator and I now work in Educational research. The reality is that just like other professions some teachers are better at what they do than others. And no matter the field of endeavor it makes sense to reward those who are best at what they do. The difficulty is that moreso than most any other profession I can think of, there are so many uncontrollable variables in teaching that setting up any sort of reliable rubric to measure teacher success or quality or even efficacy has never been done sucessfully.

    It is a good idea that no one has ever been able to implement well. And doing it poorly is worse than not doing it at all because it may actually reward "bad teaching" that "looks good".

    It is complicated by the issue that teacher salaries already are set so low that the "best and brightest" are usually discouraged from entering the field (with Lord Ash being one of the rare exceptions).

    My solution is this: Raise starting salaries for teachers to the $70,000 range. Add to that this requirement - that a masters degree is the entry level educational requirement, and that the undergraduate degree be in the content area to be taught and the masters be a beefed up degree in education. Do that and the need to use merit pay will drop dramatically as you will have a better qualified group of folks entering the field to begin with.

    Edit: I expect this thread to be locked in less than 90 minutes. It is far too much in the realm of "Public Policy" for the brain trust at DBR to tolerate.
    Last edited by allenmurray; 05-10-2010 at 05:05 PM. Reason: I tread on sacred ground

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    About 150 feet in front of the Duke Chapel doors.
    Quote Originally Posted by allenmurray View Post
    Edit: I expect this thread to be locked in less than 90 minutes. It is far too much in the realm of "Public Policy" for the brain trust at DBR to tolerate.
    You're right. This thread is CLOSED.

    Andre Dawkins: “People ask me if I can still shoot, and I ask them if they can still breathe. That’s kind of the same thing.”

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