There are so many issues intertwined in the theory of performance-based teacher salaries, as discussed in “Performance Anxiety” [November/ December]. What stands out the most is that Denver has decided to go to a system that promotes teaching to the test and that has been proved a failure. Performance-based salaries were used in a similar fashion by the American automotive industry during the 1980s.
Dr. William Glasser explains this failure in Choice Theory in the Classroom. He writes that teachers need to become managers of students rather than workers, helping students become motivated and wanting to learn for themselves rather than because adults want them to, while at the same time providing the necessary tools [for them] to be successful. Without these essential talents, you could hang a carrot the size of the Empire State Building in front of teachers and your results would not change.
Denver’s school board members should read up on motivation and becoming more effective leaders rather than hoping to find a solution through monetary means, as is all too common in the field of education. The power needs to be shifted from the upper levels of management; these managers must embrace diversity (in styles of teaching) while trusting the lower levels of management (the teachers) to become more creative and letting them be free to think outside the box. It is the only true way that effective change will occur in our nation’s system of education.
Jason B. Barbosa
Special Education Teacher
Lincoln Elementary School
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