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October 30, 2008

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To be fair, we've seen some good reporting from Jennifer Anderson at the Trib, and, during her leave of absence, Christian Gaston is showing a good nose for the news. :)

Can't say as much for the two (count 'em, two!) Oregonian reporters on the beat, who don't seem to do much more than run PPS press releases every couple of weeks. (I don't know, maybe they're writing stories, and they're getting killed by the editors. But measured by sheer column inches that make it into the paper, their output doesn't amount to much.)

There's some kind of disconnect here. Someone who reads your blog post without reading Beth Slovic's article might get the wrong impression that Slovic's article was critical of Henning. Far from it. While Beth really didn't take sides, I got the impression that she respects a principled stand that Henning took against the politically correct orthodoxy being pushed by our uber powerful teacher's union. It was my sense that Slovic at least partly agrees with Henning's stand that merit pay can work without being test-based. Anyone who doubts this interpretation should read the article. Slovic is a terrific journalist. We may be reading her bylines in the NYT one of these days.

Actually, Blue, it was Steve R. who was critical of Henning and suggested she should resign. Nothing in my post says anything about Beth Slovic's attitude toward Henning.

The links to both PPS Equity and Willamette Week are provided to prevent any reader misunderstanding.

I understand what you are saying Terry, but after re-reading your post still think it is misleading. An effort at pre-election spin control re Measure 60? The Mercury also came out with a cogent argument in support of the merit-pay measure. Much as I despise Sizemore, he may have stumbled upon an idea with some merit.

Trueblue, thanks for your posts which often have a lot of common sense in them. Merit pay for teachers is not an idea which has any merit actually. Same old problems of trying to measure the merit. Teachers each teach totally different classes (students in one class are totally different than students in another class), and more often than not totally different subjects. One administrator might think one teacher is great while another thinks the same teacher is poor. Happens all the time. Better to pay teachers based on the work they do, their education, and their experience. At least you can come up with some system that measures that.

My concern is that the current system weights experience too heavily and classroom performance too little. Isn't that right? I'd like to see a system where an on-fire 3rd year teacher can earn more than a 20 year veteran.

I'd like to see a system where our tax money went to union teachers instead of Halliburton. I'd like to see a system where classrooms had less than 20 students. I'd like to see a system where consultants who care more about profit than students and teachers are eliminated from school budgets. I'd like to see a system where corporations pay their fair share of taxes.
After all that happens I would be willing to look at merit pay for teachers.

The question remains: How do you measure performance? There simply is no objective way (in most professions) to measure performance.

This isn't just teachers, either; it's standard for collectively bargained labor contracts. It's an eminently fair way to compensate workers.

Every contract has escape clauses for management when employees aren't "performing" at their job, up to and including termination.

It's too bad that the free marketeers have beaten labor back so far that otherwise liberal-minded folks reject something so fundamental to organized labor.

Show me an objective way to measure teacher performance that doesn't 1) punish poor students, i.e. based on test scores; or 2) reward ass kissing, i.e. based on supervisor evaluations.

Steve has it exactly right. There is no simple or objective way to measure teacher performance. And I'm glad to hear that other labor contracts --presumably in the private sector-- protect their workers from arbitrary pronouncements about their "performance".

A good principal, as I've written before, can rid her school of unqualified teachers, even the ones who have achieved "permanent" status. And there are many ways for good teachers to earn extra money by taking on extra responsibilities.

Teaching to the test should not be foremost on a teacher's mind.

Just to clarify- I am not for merit pay under any cirumstances. What I was trying to say in my post is that we have much bigger, actual injustices being perpetrated every day in this country that need to be addressed.

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