Merit Pay

Governor Schwarzenegger hopes to link my salary to my performance, implement some sort of merit pay. I guess the party is over. Now I’ll finally have to get to work.

First, I’m going to change my reading program. Thus far I haven’t focused on raising test scores, but on strengthening basic skills and nurturing enduring attitudes. I’ve worked to get my students to read more and better by requiring reading logs tied with challenges and goals, creating literary circles and other opportunities for kids to discuss literature, teaching reading strategies such as making connections and Reciprocal Teaching….

Silly me! Although backed by research, such a holistic approach may not immediately raise test scores. I’ll never convince Arnold I’m a worthy teacher that way! What’s worse, the next years’ teachers will take credit for my work! I’ll just have the kids read lots of short, arcane passages and then answer a fill-in-the-bubble questionnaire afterwards. They’ll hate it, but their test scores will rise. As long as I make it appear like they’re learning, I’ll get my money.

Also, I’m going to inform the principal that I will no longer have special education kids clustered in my class. Not only have they required more effort on my part over the years, but they’ve lowered my test scores. Yep, those needy kids made me look bad! Well, not any more.

In fact, given that so many of the students at my school are poor, why don’t I just transfer to the school on the other, wealthy side of town? I’ll work less, but seem to be more successful. What a fool I’ve been.

No matter where or whom I teach next year, I’m going to stop sharing my lesson plans and teaching strategies with any of the new teachers. After all, there’s only so much of that merit money to go around; and if those young whippersnappers outperform me, I’ll lose out. Let them learn how to teach the painstaking, hard way through trial and error, the way I did. I’m sorry, but in Governor Schwarzenegger’s brave new world of teacher accountability, it’s every teacher for himself!

Oh, but whom am I fooling? I’m forgetting I so publicly opposed the former superintendent when she closed the continuation high school (thus dooming untold numbers of kids to failure) and when she attempted to implement that disastrous reconfiguration plan (thus wasting over sixteen million construction dollars). Now, for all my efforts to defend children and my district I’ve been labeled a troublemaker.

From now on, I’m going to keep my big mouth shut, no matter what. Maybe if I just go along with everything administrators say for a few years, I can earn my way back into their good graces, their good evaluations, and some merit pay. Lord knows, I’ll deserve it after all that!

Of course, there are some bitter cynics who question the Governor’s motive. They complain that a paltry thousand dollars or so to a few, obsequious teachers will do nothing to address the fact that, according to Economic Policy Institute research, teachers earn an hourly wage 23.4%

less than other similarly qualified professionals; that, as a result, teachers generally comprise the least qualified of our college graduates. Which is not even to mention that California, despite its unusually high rates of poor and non-English speaking students, still boasts some of the largest class sizes in the nation.

To such disgruntled nay-sayers who claim Schwarzenegger is just diverting attention from those real, dire issues, I have but a few, choice words: More merit pay for me!