Friday, March 24, 2006

High Noon For Merit Pay In The Natural State

Teachers, in Little Rock, Arkansas will be voting today on a little-publicized merit pay proposal:
Some Little Rock teachers will vote Friday the merit pay program, it could mean big bonuses for a few of them.

The proposal would reward teachers up to $10,000 depending on how their students improve. It will be limited to those who teach grades K-5.

Little Rock has 2,300 people who teach grades K-5, but only 50 of them would be eligible. They are selected by lottery.

The president of the Little Rock Classroom Teachers Association says of the more than 400 surveys she's conducted, only 23 teachers expressed an interest. "Out of the many phone calls that have come in, and the e-mail that we've been responding to, not one person in any of the schools we visited publicly indicated their support for this plan," said Katherine Knight with the Little Rock Classroom Teacher Association.

The merit pay program is a Walton Family Foundation proposal.

At least three-quarters of the district's elementary teachers would have to approve it for it to be implemented.
The chief problem I have with any of the merit pay schemes that have been proposed thus far is that none of them seem to have sufficient safeguards to counteract the three "isms" that seem to pervade all levels of public education: cronyism, nepotism, and favoritism.

And why on earth is this decision in the hands of 50 lottery-selected individuals and not Little Rock's entire teaching corps?

Well... voters down in Arkansas have made some most intereting decisions in the past...

Related: Visit the Walton Family Foundation
See this week's edition of The Carnival of education here and our latest posts over there.