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Merit Pay Helps Students

Why should we students care about teacher’s salaries? Why does it matter to us? The answer is more simple than one might think: money makes the world go round.

Money, contrary to popular belief, is not the root of all evil.

A desire for money motivates people to be more efficient, harder working, and more successful.

When you pay people regardless of how hard they work, you get only decay and stagnation.

Why is it than that teachers unions don’t want to give teachers more incentive and drive by supporting paying them based on their job performance like people are paid in every other profession?

Wouldn’t motivating teachers to do a better job give us a better education?

Shouldn’t education be more about what’s best for us and not what makes the teachers unions feel relevant?

The evidence shows that merit pay helps students learn and helps school districts retain teachers.

Students in countries with merit pay score 25 percent higher in math and reading than students in countries without merit pay.

In 2006, Houston established a merit based program for paying teachers. The result is that by 2008, there were double the amount of “exemplary” schools in the district.

Teacher retention in Houston was also improved. As teachers are paid based on their personal success at teaching, it seems likely that experienced teachers would stay in the occupation and more people would see teaching as a viable option.

The best and the brightest of America should not fear educating the next generation because it doesn’t pay well.

Merit pay programs, therefore, can help solve the coming teacher shortage before it starts.

At about the same time as the Houston merit pay program, the University of Arkansas studied the Achievement Challenge Pilot Project, or ACPP, which established a merit bonus in five Little Rock schools based on student test scores. After taking into consideration prior student academic achievement and socioeconomic discrepancies, students in the ACPP schools outperformed their counterparts.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, teachers salaries have been rising while student achievement has been declining.

In Washington, D.C. the average teacher salary among the highest in the nation at $48,304. Student achievement is among the worst.

Why should teachers make more as students learn less?

Both the President and the major Republican candidates for President support merit pay for teachers. Newt Gingrich, however, put it best when he said “To suggest merit pay doesn’t work would reject everything we know about America.”

Education should be about us being prepared for the adult world. It should be about us doing the best we can.

We must fix our education system, and what better way is there than to pay teachers like people in any other profession.

The merit pay issue is about us students just as much as it is about our teachers.

We should make the market principle of monetary pay based on hard work and achievement and use it to fix education.

After all, what better incentive is there than money?

Merit pay hurts Teachers

Our education system is broken. Schools have no money, teachers work too hard, and kids don’t learn anything that won’t be on the STAR test.

As schools are forced to count every penny and find more and more ways to save, they start to care only about how we perform on standardized tests because higher scores give schools more funding.

Over the past decade, people have begun to propose ‘solutions’ for our failing education system, each more ludicrous than the last.

One such solution that enjoys enormous popularity is the idea of merit pay, that is, pay teachers based on how well they educate. Like socialism, Obamacare, and Social Security, merit pay sounds wonderful in its idealistic, non-applied form.

As long as people remain ignorant of the ramifications of puting the program into practice, merit pay will continue to be supported.

Merit pay could only be enacted in two ways: pay teachers based on how much their students improve or pay teachers based on how well their students do on tests.

When teachers get paid a higher salary for student improvement, it is very possible that teachers who were once lazy and careless might begin to actually teach, causing improvement and earning higher wages for themselves. However, this relies on the premise that the vast majority of teachers not only don’t care about their students and make no effort to teach them, but also have the skills to be a good educator if they so choose.

The second option, pay based on performance, has the opposite effect of penalizing teachers of non-AP or honors classes. Thus, the educators of high achieving students will be paid more, no matter how little their students learn, because their students are already more advanced.

Another issue with merit pay  that people fail to recognize is that in order to pay certain teachers more for succeeding in teaching their students, just as many would have to be paid less. Money for education is already scarce and merit pay won’t magically solve that.

The practical implications of the system don’t end here, however. Anyone who believes that teachers unions would allow any teachers to be paid less, even if others are paid more, is sorely misguided. Merit pay could only create more budget problems for schools.

Setting aside the financial difficulties and unequal treatment that would result, let’s take a look at merit pay even if the system works beyond the expectations of some self-appointed expert saying it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread.

Merit pay actually has already been tried out in isolated experiments which sought to determine if it worked. In short, the educational results were pathetic. Students showed no greater improvement through a merit pay system than through traditional teaching, other than the occasional slight gains for the first few months, that were equally offset by slight losses in other schools.

Merit pay hurts school finances and is ineffective in teaching students, not to mention that the system promotes animosity between teachers, who are in constant competition with each other over the small amount of wages available.

In short, merit pay looks great as long as we don’t look too closely.

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