Wow! is all I can say when I hear the term "merit pay" or "differentiated compensation plan". I have read comment after comment after comment about how the teachers should accept the idea of merit pay "just like so many other professions". How many other professions do not have control over their outcomes???
You can judge me on my own merit. How well do I teach math? Come in my class any time, any day and judge me on how well I know my subject and how well I can convey that to the children I teach. While in front of me, students take notes, pay attention, ask and answer questions, and actively participate. They get it. Then, one hour later, they are gone. I get them for one hour a day and then they are "elsewhere" for 23 hours. It doesn't take a math genius to know the odds are against me. 1 out of 24 hours in a day. I see a child for about 4% a day and yet over 50% percent of my salary shall be based on the outcome of their test scores and surveys? Give me a break. I challenge anyone who says "teaching is easy"..."if teachers go on strike, they should be fired"..."oh those greedy teachers"...I'd like to see anyone who thinks teaching is such an easy job to come to any inner city public school and teach for a month...okay...teach for a week. While you are busy "teaching", don't forget you have to take attendance 4...count 'em 4 different times in the first hour of school. In our school, we have to account for those kids who are eating a free breakfast. Then we have to take a count for those children eating the free lunch. Once that is complete, we have to take actual attendance on a separate form of who is and who is not present in the classroom. After all that paperwork is finished, we must then input the attendance for the day electronically on the computer. In the midst of all this, we are teaching reading and writing. Now, multiply that by 7 hours a day...
If students don't make the grade can they be held back? Well, only if they are in grades 3,6, and 8. So when children fail and they know the system (NOT the teacher) will just pass them along, what is their incentive to improve?
Then when the dismissal bell rings, I no longer have any control over that student. It is not my job, nor in the realm of reality that I am able to make sure that those same children who were so active and engrossed in my class continue that interest at home. I am not in charge of making sure their homework is finished, making sure the children have a good dinner, making sure the kids get to bed on time. (Way back when, in the "good ol' days, that was the job of the parents...not the government, the teachers, or fellow tax payers. Parents took responsibility for their children.) The thing of it is I can't actually just fault the parents. I fault the government too. The government has worked very hard over the past few decades to make people dependent...it was Rush Limbaugh, I believe, who coined the phrase "cradle to grave" and by gosh the government is succeeding on this one. The government loves the idea that its citizens are dependent upon it for EVERYTHING. Everything that is except making sure we can actually deliver a great education no matter how qualified the teachers are standing in those classrooms.