For better teachers, better (not merit) pay

In late October, the U.S. Dept. of Education awarded an initial $42 million from the Teacher Incentive Fund to teachers who raise test scores. In a news release Oct. 23, 2006 , Reg Weaver, president of the National Education Association (NEA), called the program "short on substance and long on politics." This was part of his statement:
Students learn best when teachers work as a team, not as free agents competing for a financial reward. These grants will promote unhealthy competition in a profession that thrives on teamwork and collaboration. Real learning is the casualty when teachers shift their focus from quality instruction to boosting test scores.
Mr. Weaver reiterated his views in a commentary in the Christian Science Monitor, Nov. 13, 2006. He also cited a recent MetLife survey that found one-quarter of teachers likely to leave their jobs within five years because of low salaries and little control over their work. But, Mr. Weaver maintained, "Bonuses cannot subsitute for a working environment high on trust and meaningful work." He concluded:
Don't let policymakers reduce teaching to the Darwinian philosophy of survival of the fittest. Instead, demand of them the judgment and courage necessary to reform teacher quality at its core.

The MetLife Survey of the American Teacher: Expectations and Experiences, 2006 (Sept. 26, 2006, pdf, 167pp/704kB)



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