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