Mystery Education Theater 3000

Month: February 2008

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.

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