How about merit pay for parents?
Here is an e-mail I received from a teacher, Patricia M. Duffey, an eighth grade English/Language Arts teacher in Hickory, N.C., with one idea for school reform. It explains why linking teacher merit pay to student test scores is a bad idea, and offers an alternative.
From Patricia M. Duffey:
I am a middle school teacher of many years’ experience who remains excited about my profession, despite the abysmal state in which it now seems to languish. I ask that you stay with me as I posit a simple idea that I believe should be considered as a means of transforming the landscape of education reform.
As a reading and language teacher, I have labored over the years to creatively and energetically implement new programs brought in to help low-performing students in every school, district, and state in which I have taught over two decades.
My results, like most other good teachers with whom I have worked, remain spotty -- some years very good, some years flat, largely dependent upon the personality, drive, and willingness of the given student population of that year.
Today, though we have a new presidential administration and new education secretary, we are actually continuing in the same direction, which has not necessarily proven to be effective in the past, i.e., rewarding teachers for improved test scores.
Trust me, I have never worked harder, or with more conviction toward success than I do now, but I still cannot be certain my student gains will be enough for the year to make a significant difference. Why? Because there is no silver bullet, no secret formula for defining success within each year’s class of students. And as long as teachers are held solely responsible for the outcome, we will not have the success for which we strive, and are thereby stifling the boldest positive outcomes.
To that end, I believe that a different solution, along with high teacher accountability, may bring about change. That is, tying parents to an equally high level of accountability will help make up that difference, and we can do so quite easily.
My idea is to take funding for merit pay and move it from the teacher column into the parent column. I truly believe that we need to provide more incentive for parents of low-performing students to follow-through in helping their child succeed.
Teachers are giving, in many cases, more than 100 percent in the classroom, but there truly is no replacement for hard work on the part of all who are invested in education: student-parent-teacher-school administration. I cannot over-emphasize the effect that parental involvement has in student success, and how difficult it is for teachers to bridge that gap when it is missing.
I took this concept to Dr. Bonnie Cramond, education professor at the University of Georgia, Athens, who then spoke about it in a public lecture last month. She believes it to be a viable solution worth considering...I have no personal agenda, except somehow to help change the public’s perception of what teachers are doing that is ’right’ in education, and thereby changing our legacy to America.
It has been extraordinarily difficult over a number of years to hear a constant drumbeat of how educators are failing our students. If a simple solution to improving scores were truly within the purview of every teacher, without the help of student and parent, we would have done so long ago, and without extra pay. Believe it!
Teachers are already paid professionals, and the variables too many for merit pay to substantially change outcomes.
Merit pay should be used as incentive for the parents who do not fully understand the critical part they play in their child’s success. Without their dedication in developing intrinsic motivation in their child, ensuring success and real change in education, and I believe that parent merit pay will go a long way in helping reach that end.
What do you think of this idea?
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| March 30, 2010; 9:09 PM ET
Categories: Parents, Teachers | Tags: parents, teachers, teachers unions
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