A thoughtful letter in the Times. Rare but it happens.

Merit pay for teachers is being discussed in Atlanta. I have nothing against paying more money to teachers who demonstrate excellence. SB 386 [link]is very scary, though.

This bill creates two pay scales. One is the one we have now, in which teachers are paid for experience and education. The second has teachers being paid a base salary with the candy of merit pay. Current teachers can pick either system, but teachers entering after 2014 would be on the merit-only system, effectively losing any pay for advanced education. After 2014, any teacher who leaves teaching for a year or more would be forced into the merit scheme upon return.

Heres the hilarious part: SB 386 doesn’t stipulate the method by which people receive their merit pay or how much it would even be. So teachers are being asked to let a bill pass that will determine how much they are going to be paid without telling them how exactly their pay will be determined or what it will be.

This is insanity. Telling teachers to trust politicians to come up with a good educational plan or way to compensate them is like telling children to trust strangers with candy.

Further evidence of the stupidity of these politicians is that there is not one study on the effects of this sort of salary schedule split on teacher performance or education in general. Also, we don’t know what the merit pay system here will be, so there obviously hasn’t been any study on its effectiveness. Most experiments are done based upon prior research. Do we feel comfortable turning Georgia’s educational system into a very high stakes nonresearch-based experiment?

This one is ripe for the law of unintended consequences. I foresee some. Many female teachers choose to take a year or two off when they have children. If this system passes, female teachers with advanced degrees would be well advised not to do so as they’d lose that pay level.

Democrats and Republicans working together on this one might see it as a two-fer; not only are they preventing women from reaching wage equity with men, they are assaulting the family as well. If this passes, we may also find it difficult to attract teachers with advanced degrees from out of state.

Simply put, we just don’t know what will happen if this bill passes. Again there is not a single study or shred of evidence that this is even remotely a good idea. Implementing it is a huge gamble.

How much do these politicians really value our kids’ education? Usually when people gamble, they have an expectation of getting a great reward off of a much smaller wager. What possible reward is so great that these politicians are willing to gamble with our kids education?

Parents and concerned residents, please contact the Senate education committee and your state senator and let them know Georgia’s educational system is not an experiment and your children’s education should not be gambled with.

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