A Solid Review of the Teacher Merit Pay Issue

How to Make Great Teachers ( By CLAUDIA WALLIS) is a great story in Time via Yahoo! News about the is­sue of pay­ing teach­ers based on “per­for­mance.” As Barack Obama more and more looks like he could be President, this should be more of an is­sue since he’s ex­pressed in­ter­est in this idea (un­usual for a lib­eral-to-mod­er­ate Democrat). This is yet an­other topic that could be ad­dressed in a large book, but the ar­ti­cle does a good job of zoom­ing in to the is­sue es­pe­cially since we’ve had so many mixed at­tempts re­cently at this. Here’s a key part:

…sev­eral fac­tors seem crit­i­cal, says Matthew Springer, di­rec­tor of the National Center on Performance Incentives at Vanderbilt University. Denver’s pro­gram in­cludes many of them: a care­ful ef­fort to earn teacher buy-in to the plan, clar­ity about how it works, mul­ti­ple ways of mea­sur­ing merit, re­wards for team­work and school­wide suc­cess, and re­li­able fi­nanc­ing. In fact, Denver’s vot­ers agreed to pay an ex­tra $25 mil­lion a year in taxes for nine years to sup­port the pro­gram.”

Especially in­ter­est­ing to me is the ty­ing in of greater tax sup­port for salaries with a bet­ter com­pen­sa­tion sys­tem than just feed­ing the ex­ist­ing scales.

An Interesting Approach to Bullying at the Grade School Level

Here’s an ar­ti­cle (Learn by Cooing: Empathy Lessons From Little Tykes) about an out­side-of-the-box ap­proach to deal­ing with prob­lems like bul­ly­ing among younger stu­dents — bring in a re­ally re­ally younger stu­dent. In this pro­gram called Roots of Empathy, a baby (with mother) is adopted by a class­room to change the tone of a class of chil­dren to de­crease ag­gres­sive be­hav­ior and feel­ings. You can’t get much more touchy-feely than this, but if it works it’s cer­tainly worth look­ing at.