I am well aware of the drawbacks of so-called “merit pay” for teachers. Among the many problems, paying teachers for performance can lead to things like: “teaching to the test”, undervaluing the non-academic aspects of teaching, and/or discourage people from teaching in lower quality schools. Just like any other pay system, merit pay has its problems.
But can you name another profession, especially one as widespread as teaching, where pay is never based on quality but instead purely on experience and how many degrees you have? Not only do teachers’ unions want to block merit pay from becoming the standard by which teachers are paid, though. They are also trying to outlaw bonuses for the best teachers.
If we want to woo in the best and brightest into the teaching profession, do you think a good way to do it is make inept and uninvolved teachers get paid as much as the ones who stay at school until late at night, take an interest in their students’ personal lives, or work hard to raise students’ self-esteem?
Merit pay may be imperfect, but there’s got to be a better way to pay teachers other than number of degrees and seniority – which is what most teachers’ unions push for.