Moronic Statement of the Week Award
We had a story in the paper the other day about the issue of merit pay for teachers. The concept sounds great: Reward the best teachers for the work they do while motivating the lesser lights in the faculty lounge to improve. The problem is that what sounds great in theory is hard as hell to put into practice. Who decides which teacher is doing a good job and which one is not? Of course, the teachers unions are against it. They would rather just get automatic raises, per their set-in-stone contracts and salary steps, without an in-depth review of their performance. As long as you don't get yourself fired, you're getting your raise. But, on the other hand, a merit-based pay system is very subjective. Base it on test scores, you say? Fort Cherry business manager Paul Sroka noted - correctly, in my opinion - that a class could do well on standardized tests because they're a smart bunch of kids, not because the teacher was great. The most ridiculous comment in the debate came from merit pay proponent Denise Kuhn, president of Ringgold School Board. She said, "You can ask a student, 'Who, in your opinion, goes over and above the call of duty?' They could tell you." Great plan. We'll allow a bunch of 13-year-olds to determine which teachers deserve raises. Could it be the one who lets students do what they want in the classroom? Maybe the one who shows movies all the time? The one who's pretty or handsome? The one who grades really easy? The one who doesn't give a lot of homework? Congratulations, Ms. Kuhn. You have won the "Moronic Statement of the Week Award." I believe that the majority of teachers do a good job, and I would never want to trade positions with them. However, there is always room for improvement. Maybe the real answer to getting better teachers is doing a better job of hiring them in the first place. Improve the process for screening the applicants. Conduct a better review of their educational background and how well they did in college and as a student teacher. Do a better job of interviewing the would-be educators. And, for heaven's sake, quit hiring people just because they're alumni of your school district or, even worse, because they're somebody's relative.