I know it is difficult for business people to understand why schools can’t just produce a great teacher who in turn produces great students, who by their very presence create great schools. Sounds feasible. After all, every teacher in every school starts off with the same basic ingredient- a child, who has been raised by loving, nurturing parents in a safe, secure, comfortable home. They come to us with all of the basic skills they need and we just improve on them- like adding accessories and perhaps a little “bling” to a great product. And every state, well almost every state, is teaching the Common Core curriculum now and should have the same goals and expectations. The only differences will be in how they test since each was given the option to choose one of two methods of testing. Oh, and some schools let teachers have thirty students apiece, while others think fifteen is enough. And there might be a few other differences here and there depending on administrations, and school boards, and parents, but basically every teacher is doing the same thing. So it only makes sense that we should expect each one to be the best that they can be and give them some extra money to show how happy we are with their performance!
Merit pay works well in many industries. If you produce 1,000 Gidget-Gadgets in an hour and the guy next to you only produces 865, then obviously you are doing something better and should be rewarded for it. If your product works correctly the first time, and every time and isn’t recalled, give yourself a pat on the back. Your company is doing a great job! Bring on the bonuses…
If you are thinking “apples and oranges” right now, you are correct. Doesn’t quite work that way when you are dealing with human beings, so let’s reflect for a moment on a profession that DOES deal with us flawed and frail humans.
My doctor is a great guy. He has degrees and he’s been practicing medicine for years. Goes to workshops and volunteers each year for special projects. Works overtime. Buys his own equipment. He’s a member of some great organizations dedicated to improving medical care. But I hear his statistics aren’t the greatest- some of his patients aren’t even healthy. Their tests results aren’t good. Once in a while one of them fails to respond to his care and actually dies. Obviously he is doing something wrong. He might need to improve his bedside manner or learn a second language so he can communicate better. Maybe he could install a smart board in one of his examining rooms and produce charts and graphs of what patients are supposed to do, or show videos about the latest health issues. Maybe he needs to insist that they take the medicine he prescribes, or perhaps he could hire a trainer to lead exercises classes in the afternoons and bring in a chef to give cooking classes so his patients will quit eating junk food. There has to be something he can do to get better, more consistent results from his patients.
It will be time for my checkup in a few weeks and I have to have several tests. I know he has told me repeatedly that I need to lose twenty pounds, but I still haven’t. He has suggested that I eat less and exercise more. He’s even specifically told me I need to eat less sugar and salt and stay away from fast food chains. And I have these pills that I’m supposed to take to regulate my blood pressure and cholesterol. So much to do and remember! I’m a very busy person and I don’t always have time for all that exercise stuff. Sometimes I eat very little during the day and too much at night. Sometimes I even forget to take my medicine. So I’m a little anxious about my tests. Sometimes my numbers are good and sometimes not-so-good. But I know that if I fail my tests next month it will be HIS fault. It’s his duty to make me understand and make me do the things he has told me to do. Poor guy probably isn’t going to get a bonus based on my test results. The insurance company might even decide to stop paying him if my numbers don’t improve soon.