To the Editor:
As an experienced teacher of more than 17 years, I take umbrage as well as insult from Eric A. Hanushek’s Commentary “Why Educators’ Wages Must Be Revamped” (Feb. 6, 2013). Once again, an academic from outside K-12 education has the answer to America’s fabricated educational crises.
Corporate America sees the roughly $800 billion America spends on education and wants its share of this golden calf. The dismantling of America’s public education system, which Horace Mann called the “great equalizer,” will create a permanent caste system and further the gap of income inequality.
There are many flaws in Mr. Hanushek’s thesis. First, he fails to explain what student achievement is, and how it should be measured. Is he falling back on the repeatedly discredited use of standardized tests? What about the classes that have no standardized exam? Are more exams the answer? Millions of dollars, and far too many hours, are already siphoned for the administration of these crystal balls of achievement.
I am not suggesting students need not be assessed, but the use of authentic assessment shows student growth, creativity, imagination, and problem-solving. These are skills needed to ensure successful adults and communities.
Just like every student-teacher who first walks into a classroom, many think that teaching is easy and that money will make teachers work harder and take their jobs more seriously. This illustrates not only an offense to teachers, but also ignorance about them and their dedication to the students they guide.
There is a reason New York City’s $75 million attempt at merit pay didn’t work. Unlike corporate types, teachers care about students, not bonus checks. This is why teachers have always been in the forefront in fighting and advocating passionately for the child, not the test. Just as a student is more than answers colored in pencil on an answer sheet, a teacher is more than scores created by junk science.
Lindenhurst High School
A version of this article appeared in the February 27, 2013 edition of Education Week as Teacher-Pay Commentary Shows Flawed Thinking