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Re: Good N.J. teachers should speak up for merit pay
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There are so, so, SO many ways to game the system on a "merit" based system.

Posted on: 2010/2/22 20:37
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Re: Good N.J. teachers should speak up for merit pay
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merit pay for teachers, are they nuts!

you earn a pay by satisfactory results and maintain your pay and job if you achieve them.

If anything it should be the other way around ... poor satisfactory results = reduction in pay and /or fired.

If I provide unsatisfactory results as a builder / developer I don't get paid, jobs, contracts and get sued.

Having said that, the 'results' should be demographically / socio-economic graded for each area and teachers that perform better via innovation and teaching methods should be upgraded in pay and status to trainers and mentors for other teachers that don't make the 'grade'

Mind you it has always been a free service and criteria for all employees to share and learn from each other without reward...should I ask for merit pay from the government for my skills in teaching others how to hit a nail in lumber correctly !

It is funny how most want an extra in our pay for just doing our jobs correctly and meeting our key performance indicators.

Posted on: 2010/2/22 19:27
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Re: Good N.J. teachers should speak up for merit pay
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Agreed. It's dangerous to measure teacher performance based on test scores, which would have to be very objective standardized tests. If you think districts "teach to the test" too much, can you imagine what would happen if teacher pay depended on student scores?

As one who has taught, I saw terrible burn-out teachers getting paid big bucks, and it was upsetting. Good teachers should get paid more. Everyone in each school knows who the good and bad teachers are, but it's difficult to measure that. It's not like other jobs where you can definitely measure performance based on productivity. Kids are the products of their upbringing, intelligence, culture and socio-economic background.

I would love to see merit pay for good, hardworking teachers, but measuring their performance based on standardized testing is bad, bad.

Here's a novel idea. How about paying teachers good money so that all the smart girls don't go to law school.

Posted on: 2010/2/22 17:52
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Re: Good N.J. teachers should speak up for merit pay
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Unless, you are a teacher this is a very hard concept to understand. I don't agree that high test scores necessarily mean the teacher is a good one. It depends on the student population. The way that testing scores are analyzed under NCLB makes absolutely no sense. Also, it is not fair to special ed. or bilingual teachers. Their students do not have the abilities to pass the standardized tests.

Another issue, is special teachers. How would art or music teahers be rated?

Posted on: 2010/2/22 16:17
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Good N.J. teachers should speak up for merit pay
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Good N.J. teachers should speak up for merit pay

By Kevin Manahan
February 21, 2010, 5:01AM
THE STAR-LEDGER

The New Jersey Education Association makes it easy to conclude that most public school teachers in New Jersey are lousy or mediocre. They must be, because they’re willing to settle for the same pay the lazy, unprepared and uninspiring slug in the chaotic classroom across the hall is getting.

The NJEA — the union for most of New Jersey’s public school teachers — refused to back the state’s application for hundreds of millions of dollars in federal aid because the Rise to the Top program demands that teachers tie their pay to measurable student performance.

President Obama has endorsed merit pay, but the NJEA, as expected, has come up with many reasons why this is a bad idea. Of course it won’t propose its own merit-pay formula, because the NJEA is against any form of merit pay.

The union doesn’t want teacher pay tied to testing because a teacher could be penalized if "a kid was up all night playing video games" or "didn’t have breakfast," NJEA president Barbara Keshishian recently told The Star-Ledger editorial board. That’s a silly argument, because no one would suggest tying a salary to a single test, but those are the kinds of silly arguments the NJEA makes.

Like when it tries to justify tenure to those of us who are expected to pay for it but can’t get it in the private sector.
I’ve always marveled at the NJEA’s ability to have it both ways: It demands the unparalleled job security that comes with tenure, then rebuffs any attempt by taxpayers to make sure they’re getting what they pay for — quality teaching.
So public school salaries continue to be based on longevity and education credits and not what happens in the classroom. It’s preposterous. But that’s okay with the union because that pay policy treats all teachers equally. Unions like that. There’s one problem: We all know teachers are not equal.

And this is where those good teachers come in. Why aren’t they demanding a system of merit pay? In most businesses, the smarter, driven and goal-oriented workers want to be paid more, demand to be paid more and seek out a system (or employer) that makes that happen. The best crave to be evaluated against others who can’t measure up.

Real estate agents who sell more houses make more money. Baseball players who hit more home runs have fatter bank accounts.

Teachers say they want to be treated like professionals, but they cling to the worker-drone pay system of an assembly worker.

Are the good teachers outnumbered? If not, they should be storming the union offices, demanding to be evaluated and paid according to their considerable talents. They would be confident in their abilities to impart knowledge and impact lives.

The NJEA spends millions trying to convince taxpayers that the vast majority of teachers are game-changing mentors. But it doesn’t have a lot of credibility on the subject of good or bad teachers, because it has fought with all of its power (and money) to protect the bad ones. The NJEA has helped create a system that makes it virtually impossible — and very expensive — to revoke tenure and fire a lousy teacher. Incredibly, Keshishian isn’t sure bad teachers exist: "I don’t even know what a bad teacher is," she said.

Really? I’m willing to provide a list because I’ve had some bad teachers, and my kids have, too.

A recent poll shows New Jersey voters, by more than 2-to-1, support merit pay for teachers, and an equal number say firing bad teachers should be easier. Firing a tenured teacher costs several hundred thousand dollars in legal fees, so some school districts have paid six-figure bribes to get bad teachers to waive tenure. In other words, lousy teachers walk away rich.

Meanwhile, the good teachers say nothing. They stand on the sidewalk, shoulder to shoulder, placard to placard, with their unproductive colleagues, settling for the same contract.

Sometimes, though, it works out for them. Roxbury teachers were given an insane deal last year that will increase salaries more than 19 percent over four years, and Marlboro teachers recently were handed an equally astounding 20-percent increase.

Maybe I should thank a (good) teacher, because the unions and the irresponsible boards of education didn’t announce what the contracts were worth. I figured it out myself.
Kevin Manahan is a member of The Star-Ledger editorial board.

Posted on: 2010/2/22 13:25
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