Still Talking About Merit Pay…

Today as I flipped through the Province Newspaper, there was still more talk about the Merit Pay model in the “Opinion” section.  I am still wondering whether Kevin Falcon was just trying to stir the pot and get his name out there, or if he has really thought about the idea enough to implement it if he should be elected.

As a classroom teacher, I have been thinking about it quite a bit.  What I have come up with is that it is perfectly natural to want to move up in the workplace, any workplace.  Yet, there isn’t really any options for teachers.  Besides a few positions in the school board office as a pseudo-consultant, many great leaders in the teaching body try to satisfy this urge to move up and grow professionally by applying to be an administrator (which is a good option also but still very few).  As this position does require a large skill set surrounding leadership, organization, and communication amongst many others, all present in good teachers, this move will take them out of the classroom.  Well intuitively, it would seem that out of the classroom is the last place good teachers should go.  So with all that said, the underlying premise of Merit Pay seems to satisfy the need for those who excel in their career and keep good teachers where they should be.  However, without some very deep and focussed conversations, this has the potential to be exactly what it isn’t supposed to be.  So what does Kevin Falcon, or anyone else for that matter, need to talk about regarding merit pay?  What questions need to be addressed?

1. How can teacher achievement be quantified?  By looking at student achievement?  How can the latter be quantified to be applied to the prior?  There are so many factors that contribute such as socioeconomics, geography, demographics, etc across our province.  It would take a team of staticticians years to formulate a process to determine a fair way to quantify the variable data.  It actually seems absurd.

2. How can this be kept from becoming just a massive popularity contest?  Who would do the evaluations?  Popular teachers are not necessarily ‘good’ teachers.  Even ‘good’ needs to be defined.  For example, a teacher whose teaching method that is innovative and revolutionary may be the very ‘change’ that some students and parents resist.

3. Can student achievement be looked at fairly based upon their home lives?

4. Should the amount of extracurricular efforts a teacher puts into their students be considered?

5. Where would the money come from as BC school districts are running a deficit this year?  In addition, just two months ago, Premier Campbell’s government was proposing to cut business taxes to zero in the future.

6. Other??  Leave a comment with a question you would like to add, or just a comment.

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