cross-posted in In Practice.
I’m not opposed to the theoretical idea of merit pay. However, I have not read of any fair plan to address who would earn it. I have the following concerns…
Having worked with several principals, I have found that all of them tend to have favorites on staff. I would not want my pay to be determined based on how a principal personally feels about me. I also would not want my pay decided on by a single test or even multiple standardized tests that may not measure what I am teaching in class. Even though I’ve worked at low-income schools throughout my career, I have good friends who work at high performing schools and they don’t have it any easier than I do even though the pressures of working where they teach are of a different kind. I don’t think that time spent working is a fair indicator of how much a teacher should be paid since it seems to me that some teachers spend their whole summer working at school but doing little to do with instruction. Should teachers who are the most organized and spend less time working after school not get bonuses?
It seems to me that even the worst teachers want their students to do well. It’s not as if they’d teach better if only they were paid a bonus. In places where students aren’t learning it seems it’s because teachers don’t know how to do better rather than because they don’t want to do better.
Finally, in a field where we already make less than similarly educated peers in private industry, I wonder if not being able to count on a particular income would be enough to discourage promising people from entering or staying in the profession.