What’s the deal with teachers? I keep hearing how much they HATE the idea of merit pay. First they complain because they don’t make enough, and then they whine when someone suggests paying them more.
Merit pay just makes sense. Back when my mom was a teacher, good ideas were tossed about willy-nilly. In the staff-room, or even the hallway, one teacher might share with another some abstract methodology for controlling a rambunctious class or a trick for multiplying by nine. Within a week virtually EVERYONE knew the trade secrets of everyone else! What a waste of intellectual property! Are teachers Jabber-monkeys? Don’t they understand even the most basic concepts of supply and demand?
Capitalism works so well for EVERYTHING else; why not apply the same principles to teaching? Instead of a pie-in-the-sky, hippie-love crowd of underachieving beatniks, we could have NumberCrunchingProfitDrivenLadderClimbers! Even the name rolls off the tongue like silk.
The concept is simple: make teachers compete for top salaries! Instead of rewarding them for simply aging, we should force competition between educators. It’s called “survival of the fittest.” Once it’s implemented, young teachers will be able to prove themselves by “teaching-to-the-test” better than older, stubborn schoolmarms, spouting pedagogical platitudes.
Of course, this would put an end to the free exchange of ideas. Teachers right out of college could no longer count on their more experienced colleagues for advice. But with the extra income they receive from merit pay, perhaps they could simply purchase that advice. Surely older, washed up teachers, seeing their salaries slashed, would be glad for any extra cash. The exchange might go something like this:
Miss Brown to Mrs. Jones-“As you know, Mrs. Jones, this is only my second year of teaching. Although my class has consistently scored high on the state tests, they don’t seem to be interested in any of the subjects. Do you have any advice that might help me to get them more involved?”
Mrs. Jones to Miss Brown- “Oh yes, dear, we are all so proud to see how wonderfully you are performing as such a young teacher. It’s nice to know that the new merit pay system is rewarding you for your abilities. In my day, we only got to the top of the pay scale through years and years of toil and struggle. This is so much more efficient, don’t you think?”
Miss Brown-“Why thank you, ma’am. Yes, it only seems right that the most efficient should be rewarded. Now about that advice?”
Mrs. Jones-“Oh yes! The mind wanders, you know. I do have some methods for engaging the little ones. Over the years I’ve developed quite a few tricks to pique the interests of all kinds of children. How much were you looking to spend, dear?”
Miss. Brown-“Well, I was thinking somewhere in the range of, say, fifty dollars?”
Mrs. Jones-“Gracious me! You young people and your outlandish humor! No, since the new salary/merit pay scale was put into effect, my income has dwindled some. You see I have issues with all this new-fangled testing, so my days are numbered. I think a reasonable price would be $200 per lesson plan. If you purchase three at once, I’ll throw in a fourth; just because you’re so sweet!”
Miss Brown-“Um, don’t you think that’s a bit steep?”
Mrs. Jones-“Oh, goodness no, dear! My friend Emma is charging $250 for the same thing, and she teaches in Idaho! I think you’ll find my fees very fair for this market. In fact, you may want to consider taking advantage of these prices while you can. Next year they’re going up! Now what can I put you down for?”
What could be more American than an exchange like that? One party has a need for something another party has. What’s more, they possess the capital to purchase that product. Both parties attain what they require, and everyone goes away happy! Let’s take a fresh look at the teaching profession; the old crowd were, let’s face it, starry-eyed dreamers with nowhere else to go. The new crop understands competition and the benefits of the free-market system! Forward we go with our eyes on the prize: a marriage of capitalism and education, where everyone’s a winner.
By Greg Gower

About Greygower

I've been a freelance audio engineer for most of my adult life. I also write and record songs about the things that interest me. Over the past few years I've been following the issue of Education Reform and have been blown away by the sheer volume of hot air emanating from those hoping to take over public education. So now I'm writing about that.
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  1. Pingback: Oh, my gawd! | Does Experience Count?

  2. flbusbaby says:

    You made me laugh! And I was really looking for a way to contact you to ask permission to ;possibly use a phrase from “Please Mr. President” on a sign next Saturday in DC. Thanks! After 30+ years, now I know how to make the extra $, lol.

    Donna Yates Mace

  3. Martha Paxson says:

    Well said! The day that a new teacher has to buy my advice, or the time when I can only afford to sell it, looks to be on the horizon, doesn’t it? Sad that so many who have never darkened the door of a classroom since they made it out of high school safely are the ones allowed to set policies for the entire country!

  4. Curtis LeMay says:

    I am sure glad this is satire. You may add, “I am sick of hearing “reformers” talk about admitting only top-of-the-class students into the teaching profession, but who refuse to pay teachers a salary that would attract top performers.

  5. Charles Strange says:

    Is everything in your life as black and white as you’d like this to be?

    • Alec says:

      No Charles, it is not black and white. It is ultra complex. That is the whole point of why merit pay is ludicrous even beyond the fact that all teachers working together on all students is the only sane and effective solution.

      If all teachers had the same sample of students, then maybe testing would say who is best. One year, I had the exact same course two different hours. One class scored 180% of expected gains. One class only scored 90% of expected gains. The ironic thing is, I did a much better job with the kids who did not quite meet expectations. In their other courses they only made 20% gains. Meanwhile, the class that made me appear awesome actually had 200% gains in their other courses.

      You see, Charles, my high achieving class just happened to be randomly grouped kids who were good students. Some years I have had all classes that struggled like the one class, and you would label me a failure. Some years I have been assigned all classes like the high achievers, and you would label me a genius. Same teacher. Same course.

      Labeling on test scores is idiotic.

    • Greygower says:

      Things are becoming more and more black and white. If business people say it’s a good idea, then it’s probably a bad idea for public education. I believe things used to have subtler shading, but now it’s straight, all out greed.

  6. bev says:

    “I’ve developed quite a few tricks to peak the interests…”

    You misspelled “pique.” Make sure you know how to spell before you blog about education, especially when you are bent on lauding over the problems of education. Merit pay is actually an incredibly poor idea.

    • Greygower says:

      While I admit at least one misspelling and, I’m sure, plenty of grammatical errors, this is SATIRE. In case you didn’t understand, this is meant to point out what a BAD idea merit pay is. This is NOT an endorsement of merit pay.

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