If merit pay doesn’t motivate teachers, then it makes sense to cut teacher pay, argues Cafe Hayek’s Don Boudreaux, a George Mason econ prof, in response to a letter in the Washington Post from Rick Nelson, former Fairfax County Federation of Teachers president.
So if teachers do not respond positively to the prospect of higher monetary rewards, they are unlikely to respond negatively to the prospect of lower monetary rewards. Alternatively, if the problem with merit pay is that measuring teacher performance is simply too difficult, then we can conclude that Fairfax teachers now are as likely to be doing a truly lousy job at educating children as they are to be doing an excellent job at this task. . . . If teachers aren’t motivated by money, then they’ll work just as diligently at lower pay as they will at higher pay; if cutting pay will, in fact, cause some teachers to quit, their replacements are likely to perform no worse than them.
The National Education Association is looking for a way to be positive — or at least sound positive — on merit pay, reports Education Intelligence Agency, which has “declassified” an NEA report on teachers’ views of Alternative Compensation Models in Minnesota and five school districts.
Reactions to the programs were all over the map, with some teachers loving the new system and others hating it, but a few common sentiments were expressed. The most important of these was the lack of simplicity. Many teachers didn’t understand exactly how their pay or bonuses were being generated and were forced to trust the district administrators to correctly apply and compute the pay. . . . This complexity makes the clarity of the traditional salary schedule more appealing by comparison.
The union is OK on extra pay for “professional growth,” as in Helena, Montana and Manitowoc, Wisconsin. The report praises “skill- and knowledge-based programs that pay for things like embedded, relevant professional development and teacher career ladders.”
Pay linked to student achievement remains taboo, EIA points out.