Merit pay is coming to education, writes Jay Greene of the Manhattan Institute in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Merit pay can be structured to be fair to teachers with disadvantaged students and to reflect multiple measures of excellence. Programs may reward all teachers or focus on teachers of the most critical subjects. There’s no need to make teachers compete against each other.
At the heart of the debate is whether education is fundamentally different from other professions. Lawyers, doctors, and even university professors, aren’t simply paid based on years of experience and the credential they hold, as teachers are. These professionals all operate under merit pay systems of various types that recognize and reward excellence while punishing sloth. And however imperfectly these merit pay compensation systems truly identify merit, we have good reason to believe that they motivate people to perform better.
It’s funny to hear unions argue that their members aren’t motivated by money.