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, January 1, 2012

Who Gets a "Superstar" Teacher?

The NY Times writes about merit pay in post-Rhee Washington, D.C.:
“The most important role for incentives is in shaping who enters the teaching profession and who stays,” said Eric A. Hanushek, a professor of economics at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. “Washington’s incentive system will attract talented teachers, and it’ll help keep the best ones.” 
Under the system, known as Impact Plus, teachers rated “highly effective” earn bonuses ranging from $2,400 to $25,000. Teachers who get that rating two years in a row are eligible for a large permanent pay increase to make their salary equivalent to that of a colleague with five more years of experience and a more advanced degree.
Those rewards come with risk: to receive the bonuses and raises, teachers must sign away some job security provisions outlined in their union contract. About 20 percent of the teachers eligible for the raises this year and 30 percent of those eligible for bonuses turned them down rather than give up those protections.
Two thoughts:

1) If Hanushek is right, and better teachers come into the profession, won't more and more of them earn bonuses? Won't that increase the teacher payroll for Washington? How will they pay for that?

(NCTQ has said that they'd rather pay good teachers more up front and keep salaries stable throughout a teacher's career.  Well, if the lifetime earnings of a teacher remain the same, where's the incentive for "better" candidates to come into the field? You get what you pay for, folks.)

2) How will Washington decide the class lists and building assignments next year for these "superstar" teachers? How would you feel if your kid had the new TFAer - whose training is a 5-week summer seminar - while down the hall your neighbor's kid has last year's big bonus winner?

I've said this many times: the people who push this stuff just don't think it all the way through.


Leonie Haimson said...

And what about teachers who deserved merit pay & didn't get it? doesn't that further demoralize them and cause excellent teachers to leave sooner? Truth is that these guys want to impose corporate policies that 1- aren't appropriate in public education b/c teachers don't respond primarily to financial incentives and 2- probably don't even work in the business world; see the recent recession which some attribute at least in part to faulty short term incentives.

The truth is that the research is overwhelming in the education field and elsewhere that financial incentives don't work and actually undermine long term intrinsic motivation. Unfortunately the NYT story did not cover any of this.

Anonymous said...

Check out this video of a talk by Dan Pink on drive.


Mrs. Droz said...

What also isn't mentioned is what determines the "super teacher" status? What kind of accountability is there in the testing process?

What happens to the teacher who gets the challenging students...the ones who aren't superstar students, but work hard to get the score that he or she did. How can you help this student feel successful about the accomplishment when all anyone is "allowed" to care about is the score? It's damaging to the whole school community. It pits "superstars" against those who aren't "superstars" or struggle to keep their head above water. It's disgraceful. Parents should be rioting over the "reforms" being shoved down their children's throats. The question is how can we, as educators, make parents understand how damaging these "changes" being rolled out are so wrong?

Duke said...

Leonie, you are, as usual, absolutely right. Why should we in education take up corporate practices in our schools when those practices have been abysmal failures in the business world?

Anon, I love that vid. If I could force all the "reformers" to watch it, I would.

Duke said...

Mrs. D, the making of class lists will completely change if this stuff goes through. Any teacher would know this, but they don't listen to us, so they push this garbage without thinking.

Thx for stopping by everyone.