Thankyou for the opportunity to respond and initiate conversation about this measure.
From listening to the show, I still didn't get a good idea of just how exactly this measure proposed that teachers would be measured for merit pay. Without this detail, I can't conceive of how one could approve of the measure. I don't really buy that the ambiguity of the measure in this area allows a well crafted system to emerge. I agree with Librarian teacher Martha Decherd that basing the merit pay on standardized tests alone would be dicey, and would certainly have to take into account the scores from previous assessments, each child individually...and state tests being far less than ideal for such a high stakes thing like a paycheck.
Having taught most of my life in a high poverty school (David Douglas High School in East Portland) that also had a high diversity rate, I wonder how in the world would teachers be judged for the progress of kids from other countries? Students who have had huge gaps in their education? Students who are homeless? Students who have special needs? Students who come from countries with utterly broken educational systems, arriving here next to illiterate not only in English, but in their first language as well? For a huge number of schools in Oregon, these ELL student populations are not a few isolated kids, but large percentages, and growing.
A business model is nice in business, but one of the major reform movements in education is that the mass production factory model of education that our schools emulate leaves alot of kids to slip through the cracks. Kids are not furniture or customers. They come from homes that are often a wreck, are at times more concerned about their next meal, bad home circumstances, drug use and absentee parents--either emotionally or physically.
How is it going to benefit our education system to lay these realities at the feet of teachers and tell them "fix the discrepancy, your wages depend on it." Especially when teachers are often times digging themselves into alot of school debt just so they can do a job that is meant to be inherently rewarding because of their own ability to be effective.
A kids education is like a triangle...Parents, the kid him herself and the teacher all have to be onboard and in participation in order to overcome the inevitable obstacles that will arise as that child matures. Maybe parents should be looked at for tax breaks for kids that pull their weight? Kids not making the grade mandatorily be signed up for summer school?
That said, the seniority system isn't perfect. There are teachers who have put in 20 plus years who are just plugging through the last ten to get their PERS retirement package. They are often disengaged, disillusioned with all the hoops they are made to jump through by constantly changing requirements, have hit their peak of good teaching and for many possible reasons started to just punch the clock. And there is something to be said for natural ability in teaching.
But trying to fix these problems with this punitive bandage of merit pay for teachers that isn't well spelled out, well, it only makes the teaching profession a less desirable place to be for people who have alot to offer. Competition might be good in sports or business, but in education collaboration is the way to success. Kids benefit immensely from teaching teams that bring a more well rounded point of view to subjects, not that compete against each other for what...? a raise?
The majority of middle school teachers that I have come across work far more than an 8 hour day. I can speak personally that I cannot give what it takes to be a teacher right now and I spend time raising kids. I need a job with hours, not a job that is a way of life, which is largely what teaching is.
posted 4 years, 8 months ago
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