“The Times They Are A’Changin’”
This is inevitable, folks. The teaching profession is going to be radically changed in the near future, and I am inclined to think it’s an overdo overhaul. Let’s look at a couple of the specific ideas bandied about in the article, because I’ve heard those same suggestions several times.
Merit Pay seems like an obvious one to me. This is the sort of thing that every job field should embrace: Be paid a living, base wage. Do well, be rewarded; do poorly, face sanctions. Makes sense.
Now, I understand why none of the unions and many current teachers would be resistant. If you’re not subject to merit pay now, why would you willingly embrace it? For the unions this would be a step backward in negotiation. I get it… I just don’t support the idea.
However, much could be said regard what constitutes appropriate metrics for rating teacher “merit.” I’m not one who thinks standardized testing is the be all and end all, but I believe that it can form a piece – perhaps even the centerpiece – of the overall student achievement picture. The notion of progress as opposed to raw score is already addressed.
Regarding tenure, I am undecided. Tenure is generally thought of as a reward, something earned by a teacher in response to their accomplishments and granted by a district in order to keep the teacher. I don’t see anything wrong with that.
Now, I’ve heard stories of teachers who were inappropriately granted tenure and proceeded to spend the next two decades coasting to retirement. The problem in these cases, it seems, is not tenure itself, but the poor judgment that granted tenure to these particular teachers.
On the other hand, guaranteed lifetime employment – unmerited tenure – isn’t necessarily a bad thing either. The Japanese, after all, managed to build a pretty strong economy around the idea. Now the U.S. doesn’t have the same work-culture as the Japanese, so I don’t mean to imply that the idea would necessarily work here. But it might. I’m just sayin’.