President Obama is on my television right now, reminding us all that he supports merit pay for public school teachers. He is very rarely a dumbass, but here he is a dumbass.
Merit pay is bullshit for a lot of reasons. Most of them have already been rehashed:
It penalizes teachers who are assigned students with bad parents or bad backgrounds
It establishes even more precedent for teaching to standardized tests rather than teaching critical thinking
It does nothing to address the fact that people who possess the skills that make for good teaching are avoiding the profession.
Yet I discovered another reason that merit pay is bullshit tonight: Student teaching.
Would anyone disagree that student teaching is an absolute necessity in the development of a strong teacher? Classroom skills in an age of unruly students raised by piece-of-shit parents are among the most valuable for a teacher, and are MUCH better learned under the tutelage of a professional teacher than “on the job.”
Yet what teacher would hand her/his classroom over to a student teacher if they knew their paycheck depended upon those students’ performance? Who would trust THEIR VERY INCOME to someone who HAS NO CLASSROOM EXPERIENCE? Teachers are already reluctant to take on student teachers, and establishing a merit pay system would eliminate student teaching opportunities entirely.
“Oh, they can do their student teaching of non-essential material,” you might respond. I laugh in your face. There is no such thing as non-essential material today. Everything depends on the standardized tests — and merit pay would simply increase this emphasis.
ESTABLISHING MERIT PAY ENSURES A FUTURE GENERATION OF GROSSLY INEXPERIENCED NEW TEACHERS.
In fact, that may be the most enduring impact of the establishment of merit pay — a generation of teachers who never properly formulated their classroom skills, or a gross teacher shortage because underprepared teachers quit under the pressure or stress of a difficult first year.
Merit pay is bullshit. If you don’t understand why, you are a stupid person.