5 Reasons not to use Student Achievement as a driving factor in teacher pay!

The State of Michigan is currently debating if student achievement should be the driving factor in teacher pay. The Detroit Free Press ran an article today discussing both sides of the issue. I feel this debate is worth having at a district level but very hard to have on the state level. State Rep. Peter Lund, needs to think carefully about this bill he has sponsored. Here are 5 reasons to vote against this bill:

1. Local control – Long a tenant of the Republican party, recently seems to be lost when talking about schools. Districts have locally elected school boards. They set policy, rules and regulations. If “pay for performance” is something a district wants, needs or desires, the local school board can set it up as a policy. One size does not fit all. Michigan has over 500 school districts ranging in size from 20- 1,000’s of students. Our state is also very diverse. Let the local district decide if this is an issue they want to tackle. Would corporations allow the government to step in and set pay standards for their employees? NO! School districts are no different and should not have to be subjected to Law Makers who have no understanding of how schools are run.

2. No Set Standard –  The state wants to pass a law saying that teachers will be paid based on performance but not set a performance standard? No this doesn’t make any sense. Teachers need to know the target they are aiming for! How can teachers reach targets that have not been set? Currently MEAP/MME testing has been show to be unreliable, having social economic biases. The state does not even have a standard for teacher evaluations. Again too complex, all needs to be set at a local district level. With all the laws passing there will be no point in local school boards since all policies seem to be set by state.

3. Create bad environment – Education has been working for years to foster an environment where teachers work together to help educate ALL students. IF teachers feel that they will have an advantage over others, the collaboration will end. Think about it, do salesmen tell others about who and how they get their largest sales? NO! The goal of education is to provide an equal free education to all students. We can’t create a school where teachers keep their best techniques secrets.

4. No enough money –  Merit pay systems work well in a sales environment. Why? Salespeople generate revenue to pay for their commissions (extra merit pay). Schools don’t make extra money by performing well (and shouldn’t). How can a district afford teachers if they all desire the top merit pay level? Bottom line is they won’t be able to afford a true merit pay system that will have any value to the teachers.

5. No value for experience or education – Any teacher will tell you that they are a better teacher now than they were the first year. No matter how students score on the test, teachers do get better with time. Sure, some burn-out. administrators can observe this and take actions. The tenure laws have been changed. Student achievement is a factor in all teachers in Michigan evaluations now. Doctors, lawyers, dentists with a more specialized degree get paid more for their expertise why not teachers?

Well that is 5, I could keep going. Poverty is another larger factor that will create unfair results in this equation. There are just too many factors at play that impact student achievement.

What if student has bad day?  Can they re-take like drivers test? NO

All student growth is not equal, learning today might not impact student achievement for years. Current tests only measure students academic performance, what about social, physical, emotional growth?

Legislature stop killing our public education system and start focusing on helping our poor students. The teachers are the least of your problems.

Thanks for reading, hope it helps you reflect.