TEACHER HEROES AND MERIT PAY
I hope everyone saw the news conference concerning the school shooting in Ohio. The coach who chased the shooter away was given a few moments to speak. I hope everyone heard the emotion in the coach’s voice as he spoke about not being a hero and wishing he could have done more.
I wish people could understand that there are teacher heroes at work every day in almost every school in this country. These teachers might not be heroes on the scale of this coach, but they do smaller heroic things all the time. These teachers embrace their students as if they were their own children. They help them fight drugs, gang influences, abusive parents, emotional trauma, miserable home lives, poverty, social problems, and teach them how to cope with whatever problems they are having. These teachers have an emotional connection with their students. They are close to being the competent parent that these kids are missing. They are important role models and pass on many important values that these students will come to embrace.
The concept of merit pay for teachers is basically flawed because of the above mentioned teacher roles as well as many others. How can we possibly base a teacher’s pay solely on the test scores of their students? I could see test scores being a part of a teacher’s evaluation, but how in the world do we determine what the value is of all the other things that a teacher does for students? It’s impossible to attach a value to how a teacher influences the lives of their students.
There are school critics who want teachers to be evaluated as if the school was like a business. They are sure we would have much more successful schools if only school employees were motivated in the same way that successful business people are. To those critics I would say, “you have no idea what motivates a teacher”. Listen to the voice of that coach as he was speaking today. Does that give you some idea of what motivates most teachers?