Looks like they can't avoid the question any longer in Tennessee:
First of all, can we finally acknowledge that putting billionaires in charge of education runs the risk of having them withdraw their funds when they become bored and move on to the next shiny object that catches their fancy? (Some folks impolitely call this phenomenon "White people... destroy and leave." How gauche of them...)
Second, can we finally stop this nonsense from Arne Duncan and Chris Christie and Michelle Rhee and all the rest about how they want teachers to make more money? Merit pay is about cutting the teacher payroll. We're finding out about this in Tennessee because this is the first place they've tried this crap, but it will soon be the case everywhere else.
Remember: these people say every kid deserves a great teacher. Well, if their doomed plans somehow defy logic and history and magically come true, every kid will have a great teacher: what then? If they all deserve merit pay, won't we have to raise the total teacher payroll?
Or do they just plan to keep suckering folks into the profession - as if bright young people won't respond to the labor market?
Here's the rubric on which Tennessee's teachers are graded. It was clearly written by people who have no practical experience in the classroom and think the best way to raise morale is to nitpick every little thing out of context ("Wait Time" must be 3-5 seconds. Sorry, you waited for 8 seconds too often - no merit pay for you...).Tennessee overhauled its teacher evaluation system last year to win a grant from the federal Race to the Top program. Now many teachers say they are struggling to shine, and that's torpedoing morale.For Janna Beth Hunt, who teaches first grade at Norman Binkley Elementary in Nashville, it's been a disappointing process. Tennessee's new observations grade teachers on a scale of 1 to 5. Many are scoring what feels like a C, which under the system isn't enough to get the job security of tenure."I definitely feel like I'm better than an average teacher. I'm not happy with a 3, but I told my principal that, and he knows that I'm a perfectionist and that I want a 5. It's just extremely difficult to get a 5," Hunt says.
Is anyone here prepared to tell me that this teacher doesn't have other opportunities in the job market? And that if, as Chris Christie says, she isn't satisfied with being hectored over inconsequential and trivial criteria for smaller pay, fewer benefits, and non-existent job protections... well, this probably isn't the right job for her.
These people are destroying the profession. The damage they are doing will haunt this country for years. It's disgusting, it's immoral, and it needs to stop.
And if you are so wedded to corporate "reform" that you can't see this, you are part of the problem.
ADDING: Eh, why am I so worried. We're obviously overpaid: just ask a bunch of people who don't teach! Everything will be just fine, because if anyone's in touch with reality of how labor markets work, it's conservative think tanks on the wingnut welfare gravy train...