Filed Under (Work) by Laura Smith on 18-11-2010
A little story…
One day you walk into work, ready to start the day. Your boss comes to you and says, “One of your colleagues has been having terrible migraine headaches. Please perform brain surgery on them today to see if you can relieve this problem.” You start to panic. Brain surgery?!?! You don’t know how to do that! But your boss tells you that he has the latest equipment- all the scalpels and drills and tools you will need. Even a cool lab coat to wear!
But you still don’t know how to do brain surgery!!!
Being the strong, smart, capable employee that you are, you study everything you can, looking up your own references on the internet, asking colleagues for input, maybe even skyping with a surgeon to get some advice. But the time comes, and you just can’t do it. You don’t want to cut open your colleague’s head- you just know you haven’t been trained to do brain surgery, and you don’t want to risk hurting them.
Then, your boss tells you he’s going to cut your pay. Or worse, you’re fired. Never mind the fact that HE can’t do brain surgery either! He vows to only give bonuses to employees who agree to do the brain surgery.
Sound ridiculous? Of course.
This is why merit pay for teachers won’t work. It assumes that teachers will just work harder for the money. But, good teachers are already working as hard as they can for what they make right now! Maybe they have the latest tools, but if the system is flawed, and they haven’t been trained how to properly use these tools, it’s not going to happen by magic! Also, this idea doesn’t take into account the HUGE diversity of student ability levels and personal situations they come to us with. When students are fighting every day just to survive, the last thing on their mind is some un-personalized standardized test.
We need to get to the real root of the problem. The teachers aren’t the problem. The system is.