POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY ERIN ANDERSSEN IN TORONTO'S GLOBE AND MAIL
True merit pay for teachers must cut both ways.
The better teachers should get more than average while the poorer teachers should get less than average.
That is the only intellectually defensible way to do this.
Of course, the truly poor ones – of which there are many – should be let go.
How much chance is there that the teacher's union - at its heart the cause of most of our educational woes - would support that? None.
As for only paying bonuses, that really is a bribery system. Because the education system is so much larger and complex in the US, it is only natural that bribes would come into being.
After all, American states and cities outbid each other in concessions to keep or receive industries.
In a large American metropolis, typically there are many school boards, ranging from immensely well-financed ones in breathtakingly wealthy suburbs to piteously financed ones in some urban centers (truly rural schools in the US are often terribly poor too).
In a place like Chicago area, there are suburbs with PhDs teaching high school and with facilities comparable to a private quality college. Then there are science labs in some Chicago neighborhoods where the Bunsen burners do not work.
Paying these bribes is just one more mechanism for the well-off to assure themselves all the very best. Poor boards are not able to compete.
It's just one more form of Social Darwinism in a country which specializes in such arrangements.
Another argument against this idea is a strong one too. The fact is, in Ontario, we have no in authority competent to judge the quality of teachers. Principals are afraid, often rather limp-wristed, and they are just teachers themselves who in many cases sought a way out of the classroom.
Once a graduate lands a permanent job in Ontario, his or her teaching is never examined or assessed. There are no specialist teams competent to do this anyway, as there once were.
Going right up the Ontario hierarchy, we have pretty much nothing but ex-teachers who’ve escaped the classroom. That’s how we get superintendents and even directors with little capacity for management or sound judgment.