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Student, Business Engineering, Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium

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What do you think of merit-based pay for teachers?

I don't know if the question is still relevant, I haven't followed it until recently but I heard it was quiet a debate at the Presidential election and wanted to know what he TED community thought of this.
Is merit-based pay for teachers a good idea... There are a lot of pros and cons about the topic: Will it help the education of the students (the main goal of the would-be arrangement)? Will the amount of teachers have a positive boost? Will it make the teachers too competitive, lessening the cooperation between them?

Please write your ideas.

(English is not my first language so excuse the grammatical errors and easy language)


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  • Nov 26 2012: The problem with the idea of merit based pay for any occupation is the fact that so many variables come into play. For example, I am a 15 year old highschool student, and know for a fact that many of my peers would make merit based pay for teachers a nightmare. So many of them misbehave and just dont care about school, that if teachers were payed based on grades, attendance, behavior or any other median, the students they taught would greatly affect their pay. That being said, it might convince teachers to be more stern and to try harder, but that still would cause problems, as students in my age group have little respect or worry about their teachers or education. We need to find a way to either cut those students out or to get better ways to show them that their education now will really affect their future. Until then, no other school changes will benefit greatly our modern community wether it be students, staff, parents, or teachers.
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      Nov 26 2012: Thank you for offering a student perspective. Thoughtful people who 'live in" a situation do often have greater appreciation than outsiders of "the fact that so many variables come into play." Things tend to look simpler from the outside.
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      Nov 26 2012: I hear what you are saying Tyler. On the other end, if you have teachers who have no accountability e.g. the Calif teachers are some of the highest paid yet academic scores are some of the lowest.
      • Nov 26 2012: This is true, as there are some teachers that dont have a great care or love for the job. I have fund however, that many teachers do honestly enjoy teaching and being around students, my grandmother taught for 40+ years and loved it. That being said, with the school districts cutting their rights and the students acting like idiots, it takes the joy out of teaching. Now a days, teachers are to busy taking care of behavior and political issues to actually enjoy the teaching experience that most people hope to find as teachers.
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          Nov 26 2012: From what you are saying there are 2 different problems.

          One is more of a question, what is the metric for a teacher.

          The second is a matter of ethics or rules for schools. This too has 2 sides. For sure these days it has swung way to far toward being PC and the rules are from the top down. I think the main problem is with students who are 15 and up. At this age if they are not going to go to college let them work. As to the kids who just want to create trouble there are programs for them which basically boil down to making them confront the realities of life through techniques that work. If the kids are not that bad then the catholic schools have a handle on creating a culture that embraces learning.
      • Nov 26 2012: Mr. Gilbert, you would be amazed at the number of students grade 8 and under that have the same problems as teenagers. True, some of this is due to age, however a lot of it is from seeing the behavior of the older students and a lack of accountability/responsibility in parents. I have seen kids in 3rd grade in my little brothers class that will have the same problems as kids in my age range when asked to due certain things. The behavior problems is rapidly growing down the age ladder. I do believe in your view on the college thing though, as it would make school better and cheaper, allowing for a smarter population and a better world.
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          Nov 26 2012: I get it. I'm not sure you are hearing what I'm saying.
      • Nov 27 2012: Mr. Gilbert, I didnt mean to sound arrogant or misunderstand you, but your resoning did lose me somewhat. If it wouldnt be too much of a bother, could you re-state your thinking? Thank you
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          Nov 27 2012: The Catholic nuns are good at creating an environment that keeps kids on the straight and narrow.

          Some kids are more trouble and have to be sent away. But there are programs that will get them straightened out for drug problems, etc. Friends of mine have sent their kids to them, they consist of being sent out into the wilderness and being put into survival mode to where they have to knock off the BS in order to survive. In effect it makes them face life as basically they are not facing life.

          And as I said before some kids just need to go to work. Some kids need hands on work.
      • Nov 27 2012: Thank you, that helps my understanding. I wasnt sure what you meant with the catholic school part. And yes, that kind of event or schooling would help many teens to see that BS wont carry them through life, and hopefully allow them to return to school or the workplace as more responsible and mature individuals. On the other hand, this may act as a stressor or a focal point for anger that may lead to more problems. It really depends on the individual and how the program is carried out, though for the most part it sounds like a really beneficial idea.
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      Nov 26 2012: Tyler, I support a duel cirruculum where student could opt into either a college prep course or a manual trades course. It is my opinion that this would help to relieve some of the problem. Kids would now be doing course that they chose .. not forced to do. As you say there are still those who would be disruptive. There is no easy answer, but there has to be a start .... perhaps this would help. What do you think?

      All the best. Bob.
      • Nov 27 2012: Mr. Winner, I myself am currently attending a college prep school, along with roughly 400 other students. I love this school, and have learned greatly from it. I do believe that a college prep school is a great place for students, though it would be to fast paced and ssrict for some people, and thats their choice. A trade school would allow those who wish to not attend college prep to learn a job, the problem being they are then specialized to that field if they dont like it/ get fired. That would be a great system to adopt, if we could get around that one problem. Perhaps a general trade school then more specialized ones based on interests or something along those lines?

        Hope that helps
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          Nov 27 2012: Under manual trades: Facilities maintenance (carpentary, plumbing, concrete, welding, electrical, heating, air conditioning, etc ...) Automotive tech (analyze, repair, remove and replace, wiring, electrical, schematic reading, osiliscope, body work, etc ...) Every trade has more than one component which makes the graduate qualified in many areas. How would being a trades person differ in job security that say a degree in english language, or a degree in physical education ... they would certainly have limitations if they were confined to the area of expertese.

          I agree that nothing is set and there are certainly avenues to explore but a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.

          Thanks for the reply. Bob.

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