Heather Wolpert-Gawron

Merit Pay Nickle-and-Diming

By on May 20, 2009

Education Weekly is reporting that there can be negative consequences from some merit pay programs.  It cites evidence from the private sector, claiming that offerring extra compensation pay hasn’t worked in the past.  Yet ASCD Smartbrief is also reporting that “Obama Wants Teaching Shaken Up” by supporting a merit pay initiative.

What they are failing to mention, however, is that merit pay is a symptomatic attempt to solve the problem of disproportionate base salaries.  If teachers were paid as they should be, there wouldn’t be a need for the nickle-and-diming that is the possibility of merit pay.

For merit pay is little more than a green card of hours for recognition.  If a teacher works twice as hard as another teacher, shouldn’t that teacher earn more than their colleague?  Period.

Merit pay will not be the difference in allowing a teacher the chance at homeownership.  Hell, with the amount that we hear bantered about, we’re only talking about the equivalent to a trip to the grocery store once a quarter.

It this really what we are fighting for and what we are going to accept as enough?

If we’re talking about equity here, why not charge by the hour?  I don’t need the hourly of a lawyer to know that I should be paid for the time I put in.  At a teacher’s hourly rate (not a substitute’s rate, mind you – they get paid more per hour than I do), if I charged for every hour I did to just produce the minimum that it took to do my job, I would be paid 30 more hours a week.  That would bring in approximately $30,000 more per year.

If it’s our only choice, I won’t refuse some monetary recognition, but don’t think for a second that with the passing of merit pay I won’t still be yelling for fair pay.

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