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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 28 2012: Karl Marx and the unions still believe that the value of the product is in the skill of the worker. The unions have placed the thought in your head that if you pay the teacher vast amounts your students will be the smartest. That has been proven wrong so many times but yet is still a union perspective. As Pat has stated California has the highest pay and some of the lowest test scores. On the other side Utah has one of lowest pays and some of the highest test scores. When we stop the money to knowledges comparision we may find out what works and focus on that.

    Each teacher bargins for their contract pay. If you are not happy ... walk. Each district writes their own evaluation guides. The union has said that a principal or superintendent must make a appointment to visit the classroom or must make a appointment to schedual a evaluation day. That is stupid. Teachers should be visited on no notice and frequently. Only by a number of visits and other factors can the teacher be fairly evaluated. I cannot make a fair assessment on one hour a year of observation.

    Then the question of what is "merit". We had a "bad" teacher that was given incentives to stay with the school including the teacher of the year that schocked the community and was the topic of many board meetings. It was stated that we have problems getting special ed teachers into our small community so we "needed" her. That was the "merit".

    Perhaps the answer is what is used by government and industry. A pay scale that states the amount and the conditions for that rate. i.e. Bachlors X points, Masters X points, years service X points, evaluation, etc .. points equate to a rate. This would be using the same rubric for everyone. Merit is a relative term and non specific. Big schools big budget ... small schools small budget. This may level the playing field.

    Merit is not the answer. Bob.
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      Nov 28 2012: so you list two stupid definitions of merit, propose a third, and they conclude that merit is not the answer? maybe if we define it well? how about that:

      merit is what freely interacting individuals praise, and are willing to pay for.
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        Nov 28 2012: Hmm now there is an idea maybe we should try that?
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        Nov 28 2012: Krisztian it always great to talk to someone who is respectful .. but instead I will answer you. The freely interacting individuals .... who would they be? The union and perhaps the principal with a review at the superintendents office. In the public system there is a budget to consider. Therefore what they are willing to pay is not a player. That is how economics work. If I do not have it then I cannot spend or obligate it. Our government leaders were sick the day they taught money managenment. Just because you or I praise something does not give it merit.

        So there is some more stupid thoughts that you can pass insult on.

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          Nov 28 2012: in the public system, there are no freely interacting individuals. in a free education system, the freely interacting individuals are the parents at first, then teachers, school managers, school owners, the students and all people involved.
        • Nov 28 2012: Perhaps "Should we?" and "How would we?" should occasionally be considered as separate questions...
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        Nov 29 2012: Under free education system wikipedia states that the United states has a free education system. They seem more inclined to think that it is such if you do not have to pay tution and the costs are bared by taxes. However we do not have managers nor owners. For the sake of clarification please tel me what a "free education system" is and how it differs from the US public school system.

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      Nov 28 2012: Hi, Robert. What you describe is different in different states. What you describe as a payscale with points for education and years of service is what most public school contracts involve rather than individual negotiations between teacher and school district.

      The evaluation practices differ as well. In the district where I worked in a k12 classroom and on an administrative level, a principal or an assistant principal had to schedule AT LEAST one observation per year, but school and district administrators could and did walk into any classroom at ANY time. There were also days parents could come in in groups, with teachers able to opt out only if students were taking a test or something.

      Individual parents needed to make an appointment with the teacher to come at another time.

      I have had six or eight building principals walk into my classroom at once and watch for awhile and as many as twenty-five parents at a time while I am teaching.

      The teacher was not expected to engage with the adults who visited, but as a courtesy, many of us might say a few words to give context.

      When I taught young kids in university programs, not only could administrators walk in but teachers and families were asked to sign releases so administrators could take photos while they were there.
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        Nov 29 2012: What you describe is great. Unfortunately it is not what we practice.

        As you say there is no set standard throughout. Is that a problem or a blessing?
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          Nov 29 2012: There are some things that make sense, and one might hope that without a blanket institutionalization, individual jurisdictions might choose to do what makes sense for kids.

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