Merit mandate = $1 bonus for top teachers

Some Michigan school districts think their best teachers are worth $1 more than their worst, reports Michigan Capitol Confidential.

That’s the amount the Davison Community Schools in Genessee County, and the Stephenson Area Public Schools in Menominee County, pay to be in compliance with the state’s merit pay law, which was put in place when Jennifer Granholm was governor. The Gladstone Area Public Schools in Delta County pays its top-notch teachers $3 more than the worst.

Job performance must be “a significant factor in determining compensation,” according to state law. In Davison and Stephenson schools, that means a $1 bonus for  “highly effective” teachers. Gladstone pays a $3 bonus to “highly effective” teachers, $2 to those rated “effective” and an extra $1 to any teacher who “meets goals.”

Eighty percent of Michigan districts are ignoring the merit pay law, estimates the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.  Teachers are paid based on years of experience and credits earned past a bachelor’s degree. There’s no monetary reward for teaching well.

. . .in the Troy School District in Oakland County, seven gym teachers made more money in 2011 than a biology teacher who was selected as a national teacher of the year.

A measure on the November ballot, Proposal 2, would end the merit pay mandate by letting government union contracts  overrule state laws.

A few districts have replaced the old salary scales with performance pay without spending more overall on salaries, says Michael Van Beek, education policy director at Mackinac.

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  1. Thus the reason for teacher turnover is revealed – teaching skill is viewed by school administration in same way as it’s viewed by unions, irrelevant.

    And, an annoyance when legislatures bestir themselves to do their necessarily inept best to alter that state of affairs.

  2. I’d say it is far more likely that people were concerned with the thought of pitting teachers against each other in a competition for the “merit pay”.

    • Yes, people are so concerned with teachers competing against each other for merit pay. Why who knows where something like that might lead?

      Knife fights in the teacher’s lounge? Continuing education credits for krav maga classes? Tire-slashings during PTA night? The mind reels.

      Here’s a little syllogism that I think will cause some thinning of lips among the readership:

      People are motivated by money.
      Teachers are people.
      Teachers are motivated by money.

      Interestingly enough though the glorious comradeliness that results from rotten teachers being paid the same as good teachers doesn’t extend to layoff rules. When it comes to continuing to pull a paycheck teachers display a dreadfully declasse reference for pulling a paycheck over going without.

      • I don’t disagree. I am a public school teacher and I support school choice, school vouchers and charter schools. I would support a system of trade schools for those not college bound. I would support experimentation with an apprenticeship system. I think parents should have the widest variety of choices possible.for their children.

        However, not only would merit pay radically change the current environment at most schools, it would encourage behavior diametrically opposed to the goals of most education professionals at this time. The current holy grail of education is collaboration within the PLC model.

        I was merely attempting to explain their probable reasoning rather than endorsing their position.

      • “Teachers are motivated by money.”

        I seriously doubt it! Otherwise, they wouldn’t have become teachers in the first place… It’s a job of honor and prestige (well, if you live outside the U.S., anyway!), but not one to get rich doing. Ever.

  3. Roger Sweeny says:

    But, of course, teachers already compete with each other for extra money. Some get a pay bump for taking extra courses or get extra degrees. Some get “National Board certified” or something similar. It doesn’t look like a competition because the extra money isn’t explilcitly taken from other teachers. But the laws of arithmetic say it has to come from somewhere.

    • Ah, gotcha. Teachers compete not in the demonstration of their teaching skills but in their getting-useless-certification skills.

      It doesn’t look like a competition because it isn’t. At least not of the relevant skill.

      • Oh Gawd, I hated the inservices and Master’s/PhD clases in Education when I had to take them. Complete waste of time, IMO. In one class – the one that made me decide to drop it, regardless of whether the school district was paying for it – was a class, *for college credit!*, that had us doing macaroni collages! These are adults in their 20s-40s we’re talking about here, working on Master’s and PhD’s. It was a travesty!