I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Sunday, August 29, 2010

How Much Merit Pay Are We Talking, Here?

I was just watching This Week's show on education. Michelle Rhee, the DC superintendent, was touting her merit pay program, which she claims will nearly double  the salaries of her best teachers.

Huh. Are we thinking about that here in NJ?

Well, if we had won the Race To The Top funds, $63.5 million would have been set aside for merit pay. That's over four years. There are roughly 140,000 teachers in NJ, making an average of about $65K a year.

Let's say merit pay would go to the top 5% of teachers: ($63.5 mil/4 years) / (140,000 x 5%) = $2,268.

That's a merit pay raise on average of about 3.5%. Oh, but teachers are now paying 1.5% of their salaries into their health insurance anyway.



deciminyan said...

3.5% may not sound like a lot, but 3.5% per year, compounded over several years - for the very best teachers - can mean big bucks over time.

Duke said...

It's better than a kick in the head, granted. But Rhee is talking about doubling salaries. I'm trying to show how little money we have to do that.

Suppose we say the bonus would be $44K, which isn't double but in the same ballpark. Given we're talking about $63.5 mil over four years, you could only hand that out to roughly 0.25% of all teachers. About 350 total each year for four years.

That's not even one per district. Where's the incentive? You may as well have a lottery.

thinker said...

Something is better than nothing. Nonetheless, I am still not sure I like the merit pay idea to begin with. Competition between teachers for a pot of $$, even a small pot of $$, feels "off" to me. Will teachers still want to share great ideas and lessons that really worked with one another? Throw in the fact that we are planning to base this largely on student test score achievement and I become even less enamored of the idea.

Duke said...

I've posted on this before - where it's been tried, it hasn't worked.