Your Views: Merit pay schemes are counterproductive

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letter to the editor
Thursday, August 17, 2017

Nearly everyone agrees that good teachers should be rewarded, and poor teachers encouraged to or forced to hit the road. It is easy to believe that a formal merit pay system will do that. I am not a teacher, but I have talked to many teachers and worked myself under a public merit pay system. From my experience and observation, merit pay is totally ineffective at achieving its goal.

The first ones to get a merit raise are the boss's fishing buddies. Then the attractive young women, if they are friendly. Then the masses get some. For the record, I got above average. I have seen truly exceptional people get little or nothing. This isn't rumor. I knew these people. I have examples from three states. The way to make sure you don't get a merit raise is to rock the boat, innovate and excel.

Good people do good work unless an administration actively depresses them. The goal is to get good people into the teaching profession. That is not accomplished by holding clubs over their heads. Step raises make a more attractive career path. The union, for its part, needs to stop protecting incompetence. They shoot their foot every time an example gets known.



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