It seems simple. Someone does a great job and he is rewarded – typically with more money in a capitalistic society. If he does a poor job; he is not rewarded. In many facets of business and society, it works brilliantly. Common sense tells us that creating a such a sytem would motivate any employee, including teachers:
President Bush wants more money in the 2008 budget for a fund that encourages performance-based pay systems for teachers — a request that will no doubt feed into the larger debate on Capitol Hill about how best to attract, create and retain effective teachers.
The administration is asking for $199 million for its Teacher Incentive Fund, which was created in 2006. The fund provides financial incentives for teachers and principals who improve student achievement in high-poverty schools and helps to recruit top teachers to these schools. Rewards are left up to the states to decide and can include bonuses or raises.
Dangle reward. Do well. Receive reward. It’s not climatological science! We’re taught this system as very young children even before we enter school. A reward is often a motivator for good behavior, completing chores, kissing Great Aunt Ethel. For children entering school, grades become the reward; though some teachers have been known to give out candy and trinkets to motivate their students. Public school teachers are well aware of this cause and effect response.
However, public school teachers are union members and the rules of the motivation system somehow do not apply.
The top teachers union has criticized the fund.
Reg Weaver, president of the National Education Association, recently said the setup “is nothing more than a merit-pay system, and merit pay hasn’t worked wherever it has been tried, for the most part.”
Far from spurring teachers on to greater effectiveness, extra bonuses for some and not others simply “creates tension” between teachers and kills any teamwork, he said.
“It doesn’t work and it’s not going to do anything to attract and retain quality teachers,” Mr. Weaver said. What will work is getting teachers involved in the decision-making process, giving them a safe and orderly school and a decent salary, he said.
My question is, what does motivate our public school teachers to do their best? If it’s pride in their job and students, then why would attractive salaries be a motivator? Reg Weaver is wrong and his positing otherwise is a glaring show of the disconnection between teachers’ unions and reality.