Opinion
Education Letter to the Editor

Pay for Performance

October 18, 2005 1 min read

To the Editor:

I wonder when those whose work is miles, literally and metaphorically, from classrooms will stop making calls for pay for performance? Although William J. Slotnik (“Mission Possible: Tying Earning to Learning,”Commentary, Sept. 28, 2005) suggests there is great interest nationally in connecting teacher compensation to student achievement, his listing of interested parties does not include either group directly affected by this idea: teachers and students.

I also wonder how many times we need to read or be told that standardized-test scores were not developed for purposes of teacher or school evaluation.

And I continue to wonder why folks like Mr. Slotnik disregard the overwhelming evidence that the environment, such as poverty, that shapes and surrounds students has a direct impact on their learning and performance.

Lastly, I wonder where the evidence is that a few more dollars will motivate beginning teachers to more expertly modify lessons so that struggling readers can succeed, and if such a plan will have a similar effect on the many dedicated veteran teachers who have been working at maximum levels for years.

Pay for performance might work with commodities in the marketplace, but not with humans in school buildings.

Steve Grineski

Moorhead, Minn.

To the Editor:

William J. Slotnik’s Commentary “Mission Possible: Tying Earning to Learning” hits the mark. I especially support his recommendation to help teachers by promoting “positive organizational changes.”

So often administrators want teachers to change, but they themselves resist it. Regularly, faulty thinking and planning on the administration’s part simply hinder progress in the classroom. Mr. Slotnik rightly emphasizes that “the district needs to be accountable to teachers.”

As for the tendency of politicians to seek quick education fixes to enhance their public images, I recommend that politicians be required to spend 30 days in a public school classroom—not the few hours that most of them give for publicity purposes. After a month in the classroom, their appreciation of the challenges teachers face daily might grow.

William A. Kritsonis

Professor

Ph.D. Program in Educational Leadership

Prairie View A&M University

Prairie View, Texas

A version of this article appeared in the October 19, 2005 edition of Education Week as Pay for Performance