What teachers are telling the Governor: Day 3

Day 3 in our on going series of publishing comments provided to the Governor on his request for input on teacher evaluation and merit pay.

Subject: Hmm, how should teachers be paid?

Here's why a merit-based system for teachers has it's flaws:
- Improvements in a student's organization, self-esteem, confidence, social skills, behaviors, etc. are hard to measure.
A teacher may take a challenging social group, and improve things listed above, but still struggle with test scores.
Should they really be penalized for not meeting the test "quota" despite improving a child's life skills?
- Merit-systems have proven to lead to corruption & the abandoning of meaningful lessons for test-taking drills.
Turning a public service into a for-profit business is unfair to the already endless struggles faced by students.
- Who evaluates the teacher? ..The principal? How is there any certainty that he/she will objectively evaluate the teacher free of non-teaching-related criteria?
-Competition between teachers who are expected to collaborate for a common good (the student.)
The current process DOES have an evaluation system in place. When teachers perform unsatisfactorily, they can be assigned a "Peer Assistance Review" mentor who observes the struggling/ineffective teacher and provides support & feedback for getting him/her "back on track."

Teachers, like students, each have elements of their personalities & skills that shine above others. If we're adjusting our practices to meet the same performance criteria, how sad that many students will miss out on some of the unique talents that some teachers might be reluctant to share, or that some pioneering teachers might be unwilling to stray from the norm & try new practices.

The fact is, teachers, like a private-sector worker who personally approaches his/her boss about a raise, have already collectively agreed on what they consider a fair wage. Many of the restrictions in SB5 that limit teacher resources & put no limits on class sizes will ultimately make it even more difficult to fulfill whatever criteria is considered. Again, trying to equate successful "bottom-line" business tactics to motivating children with an endless number of variables is definitely NOT in the best interest of the teaching & learning process..

A lot of comments express frustration about fairness and competency of people making education decisions, such as the following

Subject: Idea

Dear Mr. Kasich,
The idea I have about "paying teachers based on performance," is that the system we have in place now works just fine. As a long-term educator with a masters degree and 3 licenses, why shouldn't I make more money than a teacher right out of college with a bachelor's degree? I have put thousands of dollars and years into getting my education and licenses. I should have tenure and job security. I should have a good paycheck and retirement. I should have good benefits now and in my retirement.

What about paying Charter and Private schools based on how they do on the Ohio Achievement Tests? Right, they don't even have to take it, so I think that would be a good place for YOU to start.

Your thoughts on changing our education system are insulting, and just show how little you know about our education system in general. The State of Ohio has the responsibility to educate our children, and our public education system does it the best. Maybe you need to review your responsibilities as a governor and provide more money to our public education system that is doing well; and would do even better if half of our money wasn't dumped into Private and Chartered schools.

Subject: Ideas for New Pay System

Remove ALL politicans from making ANY of the decisions for pay. Policitians have already made a mockery of the teaching profession and have absolutely shown no respect for educators. Obviously the policitians who voted for this nonsense have never taught one minute otherwise they would understand their are way to many variables to even suggest merit.

If this nonsense continues, ONLY educators should make the decision NOT policitans.

Finally for today, there are one or two comments that are supportive of the governor's efforts, even if their suggestions are, shall we say, "different"

Subject: Innovative Teacher Salary Idea

Hi Governor Kasich!

Depending on what amount each school district spends per pupil, allow the students $1000 to interview the teachers, and "hire" the one they want. Teachers may present the students with their educational portfolio - past student's test scores, how the teacher sets up the class, what the teacher's expectations of the student are, etc. The students then put all their money into the pot for that teacher, and if they reach their goals for the year - AYP, test scores, attendance - the teacher get's their students' bonuses. Much like "The Apprentice" with The Donald - the teacher who performs the best gets the best bonus. The students feel ownership of their teacher, and the teacher only gets beyond their base salary for bringing their class to victory. Also, the best teachers can take more than just 24 students - up to 50 students - thereby increasing their chance for a bonus (but also getting more kids in front of the best teachers) The teachers who are not "hired" by the students, have the smallest class sizes, the least chance at bonuses, and eventually are weeded out.

I think you're awesome! Keep up the good work!