BC Liberal leadership hopeful promises teacher merit pay

The Globe and Mail’s Justine Hunter has written a column today about “right leaning” BC Liberal leadership hopeful, Kevin Falcon’s promise that, if elected BC Liberal leader, he would institute merit pay for teachers.  In principle, I agree with such an idea.  But Falcon needs to clearly explain how teaching excellence would be defined, who would be doing the defining and what type of “merit” model would be used.

Teaching Excellence

For example, Hunter quotes Annie Kidder of Ontario’s People for Education, as saying: “I have a problem with the underlying idea of the notion that if you pay teachers more, you do better work.” Well, I can see Kidder’s point of view. A job is a job. Everyone should do their best and get equal pay for doing it. Right? 

Then, how come so many taxpayers are complaining about a decline in provincial academic standards — a view that is completely consistent with recent OECD international test results. Those results indicated, for instance, that Canada had dropped from 7th place in reading skills in 2006 to 10th in 2009? Oh yes, I know that some provincial premiers tried to spin that decrease as good news (e.g, Ontario’s McGuinty), but it was not. Check out this discussion at EduChatter to read what I mean.   

The Teachers’ Union “Learning Conditions”

Then, there is the teachers’ union point of view which is predictable and about as anti-reform as you can get. Susan Lambert, president of the BC Teachers’ Federation apparently said: “It’s [merit pay] a destructive idea that doesn’t bode well for public education….The way you foster excellence in teaching is providing sufficient resources to the system so there are tenable learning conditions.”

Ah yes, merit pay is a destructive idea. Rather, simply spend more money to improve “learning conditions” and you will get excellence. Bah humbug! Didn’t we hear that refrain during the 1997 Ontario teachers’ strike — teaching conditions are learning conditions!

So, just what are learning conditions anyway? More desks? Larger classrooms? More listening and reading centre supplies? No, the conditions Ms. Lambert — and all other provincial teachers’ unions talk about — is code for more money for higher teachers salaries.

Now, given how high teachers’ salaries already are, we are never really told just how spending more will improve student outcomes. Well, they obviously can’t. Such a notion is just plain union spin and self-serving twaddle.   

What teaching excellence looks like

Now, here is where the rubber hits the road. All practising and retired teachers know that some teachers work harder than others. It’s simply human nature and would be the same in any profession. But, that is the problem with unions. They want to treat everyone equally in order to be fair but in actual fact it is not fair because, if they don’t acknowledge those who slack off, they also don’t acknowledge those who go the extra mile. As a result, what we end up with is mediocrity throughout the entire system.

Excellence in the real world

The problem is that mediocrity is not how the real world operates. Years ago, before he went on to graduate work, my brother was employed as a radio announcer for a private BC radio station. I still remember him telling me that there was a sign on the wall, directly in front of his mic,  that read: “Be good or be gone.” That’s what the private sector expects and that is what the education system should expect as well. Figure out what is excellence and then reward everyone, from students to teachers, for doing outstanding work.

Potential problems with merit pay policies

All that said, there are major problems with the notion of merit pay that need to be dealt with. For example:

  • Would it be based on student evaluations or student marks? If so, you could be looking at a popularity contest —  not excellence — unless the teacher stayed after school to help struggling students improve their grades. Because, without that one-on-one attention, few students would give a teacher a high evaluation for low marks or hard work?  
  • Would it be based on parent comments? Well, if a parent didn’t like the teacher or felt the teacher’s standards were too high, that could be a major problem. And, while parents certainly understand their children better than anyone else, they don’t know how they behave in class — such as whether or not they pay attention and/or finish assignments.
  • Would it be based only on the say-so of a principal or area superintendent? And, therein lies some huge potential problems related to internal politics and teaching philosophy. For instance, one principal might rate desks in rows and quiet children as an example of excellent while another may rate the opposite approach as excellent. In other words, teacher evaluation is not uniform, no matter how much non-teachers think it is. Should that be used as an excuse? Definitely not. Just that there are philosophical differences requiring a give and take whenever a teacher is evaluated.
  • A points model for providing merit pay that would be fair  

    However, there is a fair way that school boards and school districts could provide teacher merit pay — what I will call a “points system.” For example, when I taught at the post-secondary level a minimum full-time teaching load was between 120 and 140 points.

    Note, however, that is only one third of an academic’s job. There is also one third for community service and one third for research and scholarly writing.  However, let’s use the 120-140 points as the case in point.

    There were 20 points to teach half courses and 40 points to teach full courses. There were also points for student supervision (for thesis or independent course projects) — 3 points for projects and 6 points when it involved a thesis committee and final defence.  Therefore, an instructor could teach three full-credit courses and meet the minimum 120 points. Or, they could teach one full credit, three half credits and supervise several students doing independent work.

    As might be expected, some professors worked for the 120 points because there were those twenty points that was unpaid overtime. In other words, if your points added up to 135 or 140, you got the same pay as when you worked for 120 hours. However,  if your work load went that 140 hours (even by only a few points), the reward was significant.

    For example, I knew many academics who regularly worked between 150-160 points a semester because students wanted them to supervise their independent work — meaning they might work with upwards of ten or even twenty students. But, it was completely fair because it was the professors who made a conscious choice — to do the extra work.  

    Now, doing extra work or supervision doesn’t tell us anything about how well someone teaches, but the reality is that university students do not seek out professors who are doing a lousy job.  

    So, if politicians and education officials at the elementary or secondary levels wanted to suggest a similar fair and objective point system, it could work. How?

    • Teachers willing to coach? 3-6 points. 
    • Willing to supervise lunch hour chess or art clubs? 3-6 points.
    • Arrive at school a half hour earlier than everyone else — and be seen actually working in their classroom as opposed to drinking coffee in the staff room — extra points.
    • Willing to take a class trip?
    • Visit a museum? More points.

    So, just as with the university professors, how can a school board be sure the teachers who do all those extra activities are excellent and worthy of merit pay? Easy!  Because, it will be the excellent teachers who volunteer to do extra work — even if they are not doing so now.

    Something to think about.

35 thoughts on “BC Liberal leadership hopeful promises teacher merit pay

  1. Hi All

    I think Sandy is spot on. It appears so much of what a teacher is expected to do is entirely subjective and undefined. Is a teacher who coaches a team or runs a club really going above and beyond what he or she should reasonably be expected to contribute?

    As she points out there’s a pretty sophisticated process at most universities to place academics in a position relative to other academics in terms of their contributions; teaching load, research, contributions to the community, etc. These things all come into play in granting tenure, moving up the salary grid, etc.

    The claim that it’d be nearly impossible to develop something along the same lines in the elementary or secondary levels is simply wrong. At that level the thinking seems to be to simply assume everyone is exceptional or base it on such dubious issues as simply how long one has been in the job or acquired credentials which may or may not be useful. Is a MEd degree really important if the person next door is doing exactly the same job without it?

    As a retired teacher pointed out somewhere else it isn’t a big secret who the excellent teachers are in the school.

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  2. You can expect a few things with Merit Pay. Unless teachers were paid for extra curricular, they would drop it to do whatever. Merit Pay schemes swing wildly from one year to the next. Top teacher one year is bottom the next. The union would appeal and appeal every teacher denied Merit pay until it became easier to just grant it to almost all teachers. There is no “System” that works. Even so-called value added is highly problematic. Unless it results in the vast majority of teachers making a lot more money, it will simply lead to teacher shortages in some aras and surplus’ in other areas. It is frought with problems.

    What is the test for the librarian, the guidance teacher, the SE teacher, the PE teacher, the shop teacher, the history teacher even. It is a solution looking for a problem.

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    • Doug — As John L suggests, where there is the will, there is the way. You want different duties and qualifications, look to academia. I’ve heard it all before. There is no environment that is more different or complicated as university teaching. Tenure, rank and department. Dept. chair, associate chair. Medical research with teaching. Medical research with no teaching. And on and on. Faculty who are on the Senate, the Academic Council, or other very important committees, etc.

      In fact, it is a far more complicated situation than comparing guidance teachers with special education.

      The point is that all you need is to figure out a formula and give teachers choice — no different in fact that what AQ courses are needed to change levels on the pay scale. Those who do get rewarded with a salary increase. Those who don’t, don’t.

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  3. I’d imagine it’d be pretty easy to compare how many clubs the shop teacher heads as compared to the math teacher, and so on.

    On the issue of what qualifies as “extracurricular” that’s the point; there will be a standard set of expectations or criteria for what teachers are given credit for, whether the shop teacher or the math teacher. Nothing difficult there.

    On the claim that’d it’d be too complicated I suspect the issues at the university level are far more complex than at the elementary/secondary level and yet they make it work.

    You can only milk the “we’re special” thing for so long before it looks silly.

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  4. So tell us how to do it. How many profs are fired by peer review? Almost none.

    These reformers want to use testing. Half the teachers don’t teach the subjects tested and the others show wild swings year to year. Want to pay for extra curricular, I’m sure the unions would love it, check the Rochester teachers contract, football coach $6000, basketball $5000, all the way down to chess club $500. I would not go there but if that is whre you want to go knock yourself out.

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    • Doug — You sure do feel threatened by the idea of merit pay. Your comment, however, is not adding to the discussion in any productive way, so I won’t be approving any more comments unless you want to make some practical suggestions on how the “system” can recognize teacher excellence.

      Interesting point. My husband saw your comment before I did and his reaction was “How lame. What planet is that guy living on?” He spent twenty-five years of his 33 in education as a teacher librarian. In that role, he coached volleyball, basketball and baseball, both boys and girls, plus other extra-curricular activities like model cluc, chess club and supervised many field trips — including the times when he did not have a homeroom. And, that was at both the elementary and secondary levels.

      The reality is that a teacher is a teacher. There should be no such thing as different kinds of teachers. They just have slightly differing duties.

      Unlike at the university level where in the sciences, there are seminars and labs and where some departments have graduate students and others don’t. The point is, the universities worked things out long before faculty unions came into being.

      But, what on earth does professors being fired by peer review have to do with anything? How often are teachers fired? In my thirty years, I knew of two and one of them was caught sexually abusing grade 8 students.

      Truth is you have obviously never taught in a university. It is quite different from a college. When either promotion or tenure comes up, you are totally judged by your peers from the word go. In fact, a folder goes to each faculty member in a department or faculty with a C.V. and a list of all the person’s publications and other scholarly work. Then, each faculty member writes comments and then votes. If the majority don’t want you to get a promotion, you won’t. If the majority don’t want you to get tenure, you won’t. It’s really political and, at times, very demoralizing. I saw what it did to some of my colleagues. And, if a dean or chair wants to get rid of one or more faculty with tenure, all they have to do is cancel all the courses they teach. Gone is gone along with the tenured professors.

      Anyway, John L is right. The “we are special” is getting really tiring.

      A final note. I was sitting in a medical office last week and several people around me were all complaining that the teachers had the best thing going and didn’t appreciate what they had. Comments like, “My husband is self-employed and can only dream about the benefits and holidays. “They are always whining about something.” “An extreme entitlement culture.” Etc. I just kept my head down and kept on reading my article.

      In other words, people like you who seem to be down on any type of reform or change, including union officials, really need to cool the B.S.

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  5. The Merit pay crowd wants to pay according to test results. At least half of teachers don’t work in tested subjects. Pay for extra curricular? Done in the USA all the time.

    What is getting tiring is all the people, friends of mine as well, who knew exactly what teachers had as a life, holidays, salary benefits pension but chose to do something else and now regret their decision.

    There is almost ne reform of the type advocated by the reform movement that has any merit whatsoever. Even guys like Chester Finn are starting to point out that charter schools have little to add and that poor performing schools are almost impossible to change.

    Reform, yes i have big ones I support that don’t cost money. Destream up to grade 10 and a few years later up to grade 12. Differentiate kids by time taken in SS to graduate, not by level of program. Abolish “applied” and “workplace” programs but allow 5-6-7 years to graduate HS with lots of booster support.

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    • Doug — I agree with your suggestions completely, except destreaming. If, and this is a big if, all kids get the booster help they need, fine. But, as you know, I operated my own private special education and reading clinic and know just how awful the current system works for those who don’t want labels but need help. In the intermediate grades, the kids are taken out of regular classes for time with an LRT. Problem is they are labelled to have that happen and miss what is going on in the regular class. So, they end up behind everyone else. Same in high school. Somehow, youth need to be given the booster support in a way that does not label them and causes them to miss important course time — because they’ll just end up failing their courses.

      In streaming, that is less likely to happen. Truth is that some individuals will simply never be able to finish a C or U course. I know it’s not politically correct to say so but not everyone is created equal as far as intelligence potential. So, it is actually far worse to stick a child in a situation they can’t succeed at than putting them in a stream where they can.

      The trades require lots of intelligence and is the place to be today and in the future. So, having a stream geared to an apprenticeship is hardly bad in my view. It simply recognizes that we do not all have the same strengths and weaknesses and aptitude for certain subjects.

      My son has Aspergers. He graduated from Grade 12 a number of years ago because he was in a modified basic high school program. And, thank God for that because an OSSD is an OSSD and no one ever asks him now if it was university bound, general or basic.

      So, having a son in that position and having tested and worked with hundreds of clients who were not being well served by the public system, I am very sceptical of a destreamed system — one that is based on the denial that not everyone have the same intellectual abilities — and more importantly the abilities to think abstractly, effectively process information and memorize and retain that information.

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  6. Who said anything about teachers “being fired by peer review”?

    The point being made was that there are ways of determining teachers who go above and beyond the minimum and perform at an exceptional level and who should be recognized for it. On the issue of “pay for extracurriculars” you’d have to know what the baseline conditions or workloads are in order to compare between jurisdictions.

    I’d hope there’s more to objections to the concept of merit pay than we’ve seen raised here.

    As Sandy’s husband says its “lame”.

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  7. I don’t object for one second, rewarding teacher for “doing more work” such as extra curricular. In an auto plant it would be called “overtime” and paid at a premium. Teachers object to the use of testing results to reward teachers. there is some belief that Merit pay would be revenue neutral. Guess again, it will be 100% add on to the regular teaches’ grid and the unions will appeal every teacher that does not receive merit pay. The Globe I believe, just killed Merit pay nation wide in today’s editorial.

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/opinions/editorials/on-teacher-merit-pay-show-us-the-money/article1857724/?cmpid=rss1&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TheGlobeAndMail-Front+(The+Globe+and+Mail+-+Latest+News)

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  8. Profs aren’t automatically granted tenure, a permanent position, rather they’re required to apply for a tenure-track position and required to meet some pretty rigourous standards to actually get it. Others are given a series of contracts with no guarantee of permanent employment. These are things someone who claims to have been a university “professor”. FWIW, “professor” has a specific meaning in context of universities and not everyone who lectures there is qualified to use the title.

    As to “peer review” there are normally academics on the committee reviewing performance of academics at the university level. Does the same even exist in the junior grades?

    One wonders if teachers at the junior levels would be willing to go with the same system…

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  9. By the way, Doug is programmed into my spam filter, for his comments to be moderated. So, anytime anyone writes his name, their comment won’t get published immediately. Just put DL and everyone who posts here will know who you are talking about.

    The time has come is right. Fascinating how DL thinks a single editorial will influence all Canadians. Not likely.

    In fairness though, the step grid was not equal. It is based on what courses you take and your responsibility — e.g., lead teacher, etc. Some teachers start at one level and are there forever — and you know, sometimes they are the best teachers. More education may make you better, lets’ not stereotype everyone — but developing a merit formula could easily be done if the will was there.

    However, I have always had a pet peeve. For twenty or twenty-five years the rules were always the same. Upgrade or no step increase in salary. So, what do the unions do way after the fact. They bring in pay equity. So, all those teachers who didn’t spend a dime for further education or the time it took to drive to a university and home again, and all that lost time with their children, are screwed big time. Sure they got raises along the way. But, when pay equity came in, those non-upgrading teachers got a lump sum payout. I can remember a teacher couple at my husbands school who used to brag how they couldn’t be bothered upgrading — who got a big enough payout that they each bought new cars and put a downpayment on a cottage up north.

    That’s union equality. Not motivating. Not incentive. They didn’t need to do that because it was never a gender thing, only those who couldn’t be bothered.

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    • Remember what I said in the last thread. I wrote about this because it is a subject that interests me. But, getting well is now my first priority. So, there may be some days I don’t comment at all. However, I would encourage others to take over for me and just continue the discussions. I will, however, approve those stuck in moderation or my husband will, as he did yesterday.

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  10. Sandy, I am not sure if you heard or read this article:

    Alberta schools apple of U.K.’s eye, but not emulated at home

    Kevin Libin, National Post · Thursday, Jan. 6, 2011

    There are places where the Alberta way of doing things has fans; they’re just not always in Canada.

    Take the province’s approach to education. School officials in Oakland, Calif., have admired it so much, they’ve tried copying it there. Management texts have been written about it. They’ve praised it in New Zealand, Germany, Sweden, New York City and Chicago. And now, the U.K.’s Education secretary, Michael Gove, is hailing the Alberta education model as the prescription to fix his country’s ailing state school system.

    “In … Alberta, schools have been liberated, given the autonomy enjoyed by charter schools in the U.S.,” Mr. Gove said last summer. “Headteachers control their own budgets, set their own ethos and shape their own environments. And the result: Alberta now has the best-performing state schools of any English speaking regions.”

    Read more http://www.nationalpost.com/todays-paper/Alberta+schools+apple+emulated+home/4066850/story.html

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  11. Sandy, I am sorry that you are not well at the moment. You’r are right- your health comes first. Take care of yourself.

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    • Thanks Jen. Given that the doctors don’t know what kind of angina I am experiencing, I have lots more tests to go through. So, I’m going to stick to education news and research — short paragraphs associated with news — not commentary which is controversial and long. What that means, however, is I am going to need some help from regular readers. If anyone notices any interesting news about education or autism anywhere in Canada, or would affect Canadian children, just leave a link under a thread here or via my Contact Form. I noticed Hunter has something up which I hope to look at later today.

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    • Doug — “Alberta is always #1 or #2 in highest dropout rate in Canada. Some model.”

      Such a statement requires proof with a credible link please (i.e., not from the teachers’ unions). Compared to what? Do you have a report comparing, say Ontario and Alberta?

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    • Sorry Doug — But there are differences of opinion. I am putting up a post with a link to Hunter’s blog indicating Alberta as a model for education success.

      “No model there?” Actually there sure is if you compare Alberta to Ontario. Why? Because, there is more to a system’s success than lowering the drop out rate. Essentially, that is what Ontario has done by putting in no-fail policies to reduce the statistics, which does nothing for real success.

      You know Doug, I like you because you speak your mind but I am getting really tired because you seem to be down on anything I post or write about. I have your website on my list of favourites and the Google teachers’ union page as well. So, I’ll leave it at that. Meaning, save yourself and me the aggravation of not commenting here anymore. I wish you well in the meantime.

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  12. It has nothing to do with you Sandy. We have different perspectives. Same with Malkin. I assume I am banned there because I win all of the debates against all comers and provide a great deal of linked proof for my positions that people over there don’t want to have be well known because it undermines their arguments. They don’t want progressives sowing doubt amongst the flock that there are severe problems with charters, vouchers, testing, merit pay, teacher testing, privatization etc. It seems of course that they are not interested in a debate, a dialogue or a forum. They are interested in promoting an ideological line and close their ears to all of the massive evidence to the contrary. I’m sorry to see you falling into the same narrow trap. Paul Bennett has a much more secure position and seems genuinely interested in dialogue because he understands that one ideological line is a very poor way to look at education through.

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    • Doug — It DOES have to do with me when you are responding to one of my opinion pieces dismissively. I mean, I sometimes work on one of those articles for a full day before I press publish. So, it’s a lot of effort to be trashed in the first hour its up. News items or objective analysis, no. I couldn’t care less whether you agree or disagree because it’s someone else’s thesis.

      So, I haven’t fallen into any trap. I just get tired that if I say something is white, guaranteed, you’ll say its grey or black, often without sources. But, even when you do have sources, you condemn absolutely everything that is not the union line.

      My job here, as I see it, is not to trash teachers or the system, but to look at what works and what doesn’t and ideas that work elsewhere — as in Alberta. I also see my blog as a place parents can come and tell their stories and opinions too without being put down as not being “professional.”

      Throwing stats about drop outs into the Alberta good news story, for example, just crashes the discussion, it does not add to it. From what I hear from familyi members, there is a lot of good stuff going on in Alberta. But no, it’s not perfect and Albertans don’t claim it is.

      Correct if I am wrong — which I am sure you will attempt to do — but given that we conservatives think some privatization and parent choice (e.g., having funding follow a student) could be a good thing in terms of parent control and participation, we are evil incarnate. Truth is that whether funding follows a student or doesn’t, teachers can still be covered by collective agreements. Meaning, that Ontario’s teachers’ unions would lose nothing or very little if they would just embrace change and reform rather than fear it — be a part of a solution rather than the problem.

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    • Chris — I can’t believe you would put any faith in that video. It is pure spin and twaddle. No one is suggesting only using test scores. Usually only poor kids move? No consistency in standardized test scores because one class may be rowdy? Weight scale can’t make up its mind? Principal not supportive? I don’t feel like it because it would be a waste of time but I could take that video apart sentence by sentence its so bad.

      As I say in my post, universities have just as much variability, if not more, than elementary and secondary levels. Not only specialties, but rank, years of experience, course taught (undergrad, pre-service, grad masters and grad doctoral) plus all the contracts that include medical and psychological research, classics and archeological digs and on and on.

      No matter how much support a principal gives or doesn’t give a classroom teacher, it is the classroom teacher who is responsible for how well his or her students do. Yes, there are lots of outside influences, as well as the student’s willingness to learn. But, teachers are taught how to motivate.

      So, let’s drop the “we are different or special” bit okay? Let’s find a way where good teachers are rewarded — because you and I both know who they are. What we have to figure out is how to quantify how we know that — just as we do, or should do, with teacher evaluation — and standardized scores should only be a small part of that. I mean, there is nothing to suggest teachers couldn’t be a part of their own evaluation process. Just as now, they can develop their own objectives and describe their own teaching methods at the start of the year based on several areas and then, with the principal or an outside party, evaluate whether they reached their objectives, used those methods or, in fact, went over their own expectations. Peers who work closely together, even if on rotary, can take a look at the pre and post objectives and comment as well.

      Where there is the will, there is the way. I know, because that was the area of research for my Ph.D disseration. I did four case studies and three out of four did as they said they would do, used the methods they claimed they used and got the results they wanted. One did not and, although I never identified him (just as Subject B) he was very angry when I showed him the results of the many hours I spent in his classroom recording field notes and what both he and his students said. There is an old saying: know thyself. That is what merit pay would bring out — one hopes. If you are not doing enough, you should be able to identify that yourself. Would it end up that a lot of teachers were getting merit pay? Possibly. But, wouldn’t that be a good thing for kids?

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  13. Doug Little’s asserts that his superior debating skill is the reason he is no longer welcome on our blog, School for Thought. This is incorrect. The reason is his repeated attacks on other commenters, and this has been explained to him repeatedly.

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    • Malkin, the essential problem is that progressives feel they are right. So, why try to argue with them. You will notice that with the horrible deaths and injuries in the Arizona shooting, the gloves are off that the negative press is all the fault of conservatives. I just can’t believe that. Look carefully guys, and most of the venom, at least in Canada and Ontario, is coming from the Liberals. Yet, they are right you see, so conservatives — small c and capital C — have to be wrong. I can see when other conservatives are wrong — such as what Sarah Palin showed on her Facebook page — but progressives seem incapable of the same kind of insight.

      So, until Doug opens up his website to comments and all points of view — and doesn’t put down those who disagree with him — I will moderate his comments very carefully. If he doesn’t like that, then he doesn’t have to visit here. Thing is, I have no doubt he is a very nice guy in person and that we only just disagree on some issues, but they are fundamental issues. But, when someone is right about everything, and everyone else is corrected for their illogical thinking or whatever, it’s very hard to respond to that.

      I feel a responsibility, as I am sure SQE does, to keep the rhetoric calm here.

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  14. I assume that the reason i am banned at SQE and “monitored” here is because I win all of the debates and conservative blogs were not established for progressives to win all of the debates. I also believe that blog owners do not want the majority of their followers doubting the handed down wisdom. We are in an extential struggle for the existence of public education. The debate is no less than that.

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    • Doug — I approved your comment because I assume it was with tongue in cheek. If not, you are too much! “Win all the debates?” You wish! LOL

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  15. I am not kidding. The overwhelming amount of research is on the progressive side. It is not even close. As each “reform” fails to deliver; testing, vouchers, charters, tax credits, Mayoral control, closing failing schools, Merit Pay, and so on, even conservatives are losing heart because they just do not work. We plod on with anti-intellectulism and anti-popular opinion as well because it can all be manipulate but those Starbucks Latte swilling city slickers around OISE, and Stanford.

    Don’t dazzle me with the facts because they upset my preconceived notions that these concepts, as discredited as they are must be tried again.

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  16. It’d do wonders for Doug’s credibility if he’d allow the same interactions at his site as he so generously takes advantage of elsewhere. I find it curious that a former educator won’t allow his 36,000 subscribers to interact with each other, particularly when he claims to be so concerned about the “debate”.

    Curious…

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    • I have approved Doug’s last two comments simply to be fair, since others were talking about it. But, given his most recent at 8:38, he has said everything he can say — in his mind progressives are right about everything. What I find offensive however, is the implicit assumption that conservatives are anti-intellectual. Give me a break! Time for me to roll up the welcome mat Doug once and for all. like John L. suggests, you want debate, open it up to your 36,000 subscribers.

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  17. All depends what “Merit Pay” actually means. More money for extra work such as extra curricular? Many American teachers unions and boards have negotiated this a long time ago. No particular principled objection from the union, devil is in the details. More money to work in tougher schools? If this is what boards and governments want it can be negotiated as well. If they mean pay to standardized tests that is another matter. Affluent kids do not only start at a higher position, they actually learn more per year so that the gap widens. As a result, so called “value-added” measures are no better than standard measures. They also swing wildly from year to year.

    You can move the teacher with the highest achievement gains to a different class or school and they cannot duplicate those gains. It is a great deal more complicated that those outside the school system understand.

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