It’s been tough to find a really good explanation of the various teacher merit-pay plans out there. Both Tennessee and Delaware jumped on the merit-mobile to up their attractiveness to Race to the Top Funds. Other states, including New Jersey, Georgia, and Florida, are all debating the possibility. I find the whole merit pay business disgusting for a slew of reasons. But I found a fairly decent article that has some key quotes from the debate in New Jersey, namely from Gov. Christie. It’s not the most powerful set of examples, but let me run off a couple and see if you notice anything interesting:
Quote 1: The commissioner’s list of reforms also includes giving patients more hospital choice and closing failing hospitals. He also alluded to possibly tenure reform, saying the state should have a system where ineffective doctors can be more easily replaced.
Quote 2: Merit pay proposals generally use data systems to support medical practice, tying patient performance on blood tests to physician evaluations and compensation.
Both Delaware and Tennessee, earlier Race to the Top winners, included such measures.
Delaware’s new law on doctor effectiveness, for example, says no physicians can be rated as “effective” unless their patients demonstrate satisfactory levels of health; doctors rated “ineffective” for 2 to 3 years can be removed from practice, even if they have tenure.
So, I changed the words in italics from education-related concepts to those of medicine. I don’t know, doesn’t it sound funny-strange, perhaps more absurd, when you read about all doctors being evaluated based on the health of their patients? Thus, my grandfather’s GP would receive an “ineffective” evaluation, a salary reduction, and a potential re-staffing of his office because old-pops can’t seem to eat at the right time of day to control his diabetes. Granted, my grandfather is an adult; he should be able to take care of himself. Elementary or high school students, not full adults, so the responsibility of their care rests on other adults, like parents and teachers.
Inasmuch as one’s health is due to a variety of mitigating and unknown factors, the same could be said about one’s educational outcomes. Teachers and physicians do what they’re trained to do, utilize their content knowledge and professional judgment, to affect the health or educational outcomes of their charges. Yet, because teaching is primarily a female-dominated and poorly remunerated profession, it is easy to justify the continued control and strangulation of their professional status and good judgement by bureaucrats, legislators, administrators, and policymakers.