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which was written as a comment on this thread at Diane Ravitch's blog..

The presumption of Merit pay for teachers is that the impact of the teacher can in some fashion be immediately measured, usually by utilizing scores on the atrocious tests upon which we rely way too much. I would remind people of the statement by Henry Adams in his autobiography, The Education of Henry Adams,

A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.
As a teacher, I think a far better indicator of my effectiveness as a teacher is the number of students who stay in touch with me, perhaps through social media like Facebook (the last time I checked I had something over 400 of my former students, and the number goes up every week), or reaching out to me via email. This week I am having lunch with two young men who are now on to their professional lives – I taught them as 10th graders, and they asked me to get together.

Or perhaps since my last decade I taught primarily sophomores, those students who return to me to ask me to write their recommendations for college and scholarship applications, even if they plan on going on in STEM related fields and I taught them government, because they feel I understand them, or they grew so much in my class, or they trust me.

Here I think back well over a decade. A young man had transferred into our school, and not having had government previously, even though it was then a 9th grade course, I taught him when he was a junior. When he was a senior, he asked me to write his recommendation for an application for the most prestigious scholarship at his college of choice, Liberty University. Now my politics are probably as far to the left as those of the late Jerry Falwell were to the right. I did not have a high opinion of Falwell. Reid knew that. But he also knew that I trusted my students, could provide an accurate description of them. In that letter I specifically talked about the political differences and what it said of Reid as a person that he trusted me, out of all his teachers, to write that recommendation. He got the scholarship.

I recount that story because I think it is far greater indicator of my quality as a teacher than any test scores.

Were I asked about other indicator, I would talk about the now more than 3 dozen of my former students who are themselves teachers or upon graduation from college this year are becoming teachers. I might refer to a student like Monica, who was originally going to be a pediatric oncologist, but after first taking government from me as a 9th grade was in my Comparative Religion class as an 11th grader, and instead decided to go to a small catholic college and work on theology and social justice. Her mother was very angry with me, but Monica felt empowered.

By the way, for what it is worth, my students tended to do very well on external tests, but that is of far less importance than the personal growth they experienced, the willingness to explore, to take risks and learn from them. I challenged them to think more deeply, consider a wider range of points of view.

I learned from them, which made me both a more effective teacher and a better human being.

Should I have been paid more by some statistical analysis of the impact I had on their lives other than their test scores? Don’t be ridiculous.

I should be paid an adequate amount for the work I did.

Whatever part I played in their subsequent success does not warrant giving me more money. The greatest compensation was their thanks.

So let me conclude this with tales of two very different students. One was an 8th grader in foster care who was angry, getting in fights, not doing well. I insisted on him coming to me for extra help by himself, and talked with him, pointing out that if he went around with a scowl on his face if he accidentally bumped into someone he would be in yet another fight. Around the end of February he began to blossom, and the same classmates with whom he used to fight selected him to be their commencement speaker. One of my most treasured possessions is the handwritten note he gave me thanking me for not giving up on him. When I last saw him, when he was a senior in high school and we ran into one another, he came over and gave me a huge bear hug.

The other occurred last year. She was brilliant. When I taught her AP government as a sophomore, I told her she seemed satisfied with getting good grades, and was not really challenging herself. She got angry at me, because she was getting 94s and 95s in my class. For most of the rest of her high school career she was cool to me. She was one of our most outstanding students, went to a prestigious university, interned at a prestigious high tech company for whom she was hired to begin work as soon as she graduated. In the spring of her senior year of college, she sent me an email, reminding me of those remarks and her response, and telling me it took her until her junior year of college to realize I was right, and thanking me. In our electronic conversations i mentioned that I was retiring, and she flew back to Maryland earlier than she had planned in order to come to my small scale retirement celebration.

A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops. I did not need merit pay to tell me when I was doing a good job. The students would let me know.

Originally posted to teacherken on Sat May 11, 2013 at 12:56 PM PDT.

Also republished by Education Alternatives and Teachers Lounge.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (28+ / 0-)

    "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

    by teacherken on Sat May 11, 2013 at 12:56:40 PM PDT

  •  incentivizing one's passion: what a concept /nt (4+ / 0-)

    Warning - some snark above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "I’m not the strapping young Muslim socialist that I used to be" - Barack Obama 04/27/2013

    by annieli on Sat May 11, 2013 at 12:59:26 PM PDT

  •  As I wrote this, I was wearing myself (10+ / 0-)

    a black t-shirt with my picture on it

    above the picture it reads

    "HAPPY RETIREMENT"

    below the picture it says

    HOORAH!!!

    It was a gift from some of my students.

    I wear it proudly.

    "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

    by teacherken on Sat May 11, 2013 at 01:09:51 PM PDT

  •  and perhaps few will read this today (7+ / 0-)

    which is fine

    I got some warm responses about it at Ravitch's blog, I had not posted here yesterday nor day, and thought it was worth sharing for whomever might thereby encounter it.

    TOday is a quiet today, somewhat warm for this time of the  year, without too much pressing on my time.

    On Monday afternoon I will teach a sample lesson that is supposed to have something to do with the Roman Empire.  The students will have just finished Julius Caesar.  They are students I would be teaching next year in that very small teacher-owned and run school.  The person who is their current teacher is one of the founders of the school.  With my psoriasis i am supposed to minimize stress. So I have decided to be myself, and try to engage the students in some dialog about why we study Rome, and in the process share some information about which they may not have thought, and try to connect it to America, for example

    PAX Romana
    PAX Americana

    Who knows how it will go?  Quite often when I am teaching it is like jumping off a building without either a net or a parachute, trusting that the students will engage with me sufficiently that I do not totally crash.

    "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

    by teacherken on Sat May 11, 2013 at 01:31:38 PM PDT

  •  The pressure to measure people by what (5+ / 0-)

    they own is quite intense in the U.S.  I suspect it is a hang-over from when social standing was largely determined by who owned whom and property rights trumped human rights.
    Also, there's probably an element of laziness involved. Material assets are so much easier to quantify and evaluate than attributes such as integrity, honor and dignity.
    People are tempted to sell-out and then they are disrespected for doing just that.
    I suspect lots of people are revolting and that accounts to a certain extent for the fact that as much as 19% of our GDP is now being carried out in the underground or shadows, away from where income can be easily tracked. The estimate is, of course, speculative since it is hard to count what is not seen, but the people doing the calculations are looking at things like the use of cash for transactions, reductions in consumer debt and other indicators which are more consistent with an unemployment rate of 5%. Which is not to suggest that the economy is not as bad as reported but that, IMHO, after four decades of being jerked around, Americans are making changes on their own.
    The powers that be, of course, are putting the blame for things like the Tea Party and OWS and the millennials' egalitarian outlook on the teachers. Public school teachers were supposed to produce "good" citizens where good = obedient. They failed. So, they have to be punished. Punishment is, after all, the only thing mingies have at their disposal.

    We organize governments to deliver services and prevent abuse.

    by hannah on Sat May 11, 2013 at 01:36:54 PM PDT

  •  Increased pay does not always equate to increased (4+ / 0-)

    performance. Often what motivates people is not monetary. Here is a thought provoking video concerning a study done to measure what motivates people.

    The story about a company that on Fridays gave its employees Friday to do whatever they wanted is very noteworthy.

    .................expect us......................... FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

    by Roger Fox on Sat May 11, 2013 at 01:55:21 PM PDT

  •  Re (0+ / 0-)
    I might refer to a student like Monica, who was originally going to be a pediatric oncologist, but after first taking government from me as a 9th grade was in my Comparative Religion class as an 11th grader, and instead decided to go to a small catholic college and work on theology and social justice. Her mother was very angry with me, but Monica felt empowered.
    Ken, I don't blame you for this outcome, but you honestly think this is a good thing for her?

    Theology is completely worthless. "Social justice" isn't a recognizable skill.

    If this girl was truly talented enough to be a pediatric oncologist, she has done herself and society a great disservice by choosing "theology and social justice" instead. As a pediatric oncologist she could have made countless contributions to the "social justice" cause anyway by for example treating the poor. Now she'll be poor herself, probably her whole life and will have limited to no talents to contribute to anyone else.

    So yeah, maybe she's "happier" or "found her calling" or something. But she'll be poor and perhaps extremely indebted for the rest of her life and will be less able, not more, to accomplish what she wants to accomplish in the hazily-defined "social justice" realm.

    Again, I don't blame you for this outcome, Ken, but what a waste. I'd be pissed if I was her parent too.

    (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
    Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

    by Sparhawk on Sat May 11, 2013 at 02:11:28 PM PDT

    •  I really don't know what to say to you (9+ / 0-)

      just because you don't value something doesn't make it valueless

      I remember a conversation I had with an Oxford educated British guy who was a monk in a Greek speaking monastery on Mount Athos.  The subject was related to the idiocy of what you just wrote - yes, he pointed out, 1,500 gifted energetic men might make a difference doing other things in the world, but they were doing what was important for them to do, and the world benefited thereby.

      So let me speak bluntly to you, from my personal experience.

      When I left local government service as a tenured civil servant making 65,000 - significantly less than I could have made working for Apple which had tried to hire me for their federal office - I spent one year with no income training to become a teacher, and then began at around 32,000/year.  

      During my 2nd year of teaching, I was regularly approached to do Y2K conversions for COBOL computer systems.  The offers quickly reached over 100,000/year.  My principal was paranoid she was going to lose me.  My students knew about the offers, and wondered why I wasn't leaving.  I told them teaching them was more important and more valuable than the money.  That made a difference to at least some, including the young 8th grader about whom I write in the diary.  

      Just because you do not think something valuable does not make it so.  Monica was very happy with the choices she made, and felt she was doing far more good than she could have as a pediatric oncologist.  

      That you cannot see the truth of her choice is your loss.

      "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

      by teacherken on Sat May 11, 2013 at 02:19:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Ken (0+ / 0-)

        People ask you "if you have all those other talents, why do you teach?"

        They will never ask her those questions. Because the answer is going to be "I have no other options because I have no other skills." It might be great in her early 20s, but as life goes on and her friends have real accomplishments and earning power under their belts, the feeling will become increasingly bitter.

        Public servants are great when they have other options, because they are truly volunteering and contributing. It's a lot less fun when they are doing what they are doing and have no other options.

        (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
        Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

        by Sparhawk on Sat May 11, 2013 at 02:48:10 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  oh baloney (3+ / 0-)

          you do not realize the skills one develops in working with either theology or social justice.

          I studied theology and bible at a Catholic seminary and trust me the skills are demonstrably transferrable

          years ago I worked in placing people in data processing.

          The old Pennsylvania Railroad - not quite yet made quite clear their preference for undergraduate majors for people they would hire to become computer programmers

          1.  Accounting, because so many of their applications were business related

          2. Music

          3. Math.

          Business was not even in the top five.

          Why music?  Because in studying music you develop transferrable skills.  Writing counterpoint exercises is similar to coding - you must follow rules.  Analyzing a pre-existing piece of music involves pattern recognition in a way that is quite useful in debugging programs gone wrong.

          You are simply wrong.  Your lens is distorted.  You don't know what you are talking about it, in many ways.

          One reason that elite colleges and universities have distribution requirements is so that their students do not get narrowly educated.

          In Monica's case, she had already completed a  number (9 if memory serves) college level courses by the time she graduated from high school.  She had AP Calc, Bio, Chem and Physics, and had already from the developed the kind of skills necessary to broaden the range of possibilities for her.  She may also have had AP Statistics, although I no longer have a copy of her CV/record that I used to write her college recommendations.  

          "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

          by teacherken on Sat May 11, 2013 at 03:00:53 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  We've made our respective points (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            coldwynn

            Thanks for engaging. I'll let you have the last word and let lurkers decide for themselves.

            (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
            Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

            by Sparhawk on Sat May 11, 2013 at 03:05:23 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Thanks for Presenting Your Points (0+ / 0-)

              I don't agree with them which falls into opinions are like...everyone has one.

              I absolutely respect the courage and integrity you clearly demonstrated in presenting a contrary opinion which is why I am wrecking your post. Now, back to lurking...shhhh

      •  Work you are passionate about (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Heart of the Rockies

        Making a lot of money does not bring satisfaction in life. I have seen a family, my in-laws, that had a great deal of money that came from the father's law practice. They were a very unhappy and destructive family. If a person is working in a position that they enjoy, and feel fulfilled by, their life will be better. I have seen it happen many times.

        I spent 35 years as an educator in the public school system. When I retired my wife had a picnic and invited students and colleagues. Among the many students I had who showed up were several from 30 years prior. They took time out of their lives to celebrate with me. I was honored.

        Among the many great notes I received was one from one of those 30 years ago ones. It brought tears to my eyes. She had me for 8th grade science and then 11th grade Chemistry. She was not the best student but tried her best. She passed but never received great grades. Had I been evaluated on her test scores I would not have received high evaluations myself. She was a heavy set girl who was teased and isolated. She told me that my encouragement and respect for her every day she came to class helped her get through the day and the year. In addition she credits my work with her on how to study with her eventual (years later) completion of a nursing degree and a successful career.

        Those who think test results are the best or only way to evaluate teacher effectiveness do not understand the process of teaching and have not looked at the research done relating individual year test results and future student success. First of all testing is a very detailed process. Psychometrics is the study of testing. Writing an effective test whose questions are accurate and reliable is difficult and requires a lengthy process to ensure that is so. The tests created by the testing services often do not meet this criteria. However these are considered the most important evaluation tool.

        Teaching can be a rewarding career that will never be judged by how much money a teacher makes but how effective his/her interactions with students are. This makes a satisfying career. Students should be encouraged to pursue their passion. An old book, "Do What You Love and the Money Will Follow," talked about pursuing your passion. The money that follows does not mean riches must follow, but enough money follows to live your life in a comfortable manner. The satisfying life is the greatest reward.

    •  What if pediatric oncology (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      coldwynn

      Made her miserable and drove the girl to suicide?
      Too many "what ifs" in your proposition.

      http://callatimeout.blogspot.com/ Jesus Loves You.

      by DAISHI on Sat May 11, 2013 at 02:52:44 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Just as likely (0+ / 0-)

        That she'll commit suicide on her current path because she has no path to self-improvement.

        My statement above is hypothetical. I just deal in what is likely. What is likely is that she's have a substantially worse outcome as a "social justice" person than as a doctor.

        (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
        Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

        by Sparhawk on Sat May 11, 2013 at 02:59:43 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  In the old system this would warrant a 1 (3+ / 0-)

          and the comment to which you are responding a 2 or a 3.

          You are very wrong about what is likely.

          Your idea of outcome apparently is income, which is why you don't particularly value those who work as teachers - and I suppose in many cases as counselors, or housing advocates, or for legal aid.

          It is that kind of attitude that gets Bill Gates a megaphone he does not deserve on issues on education.  I am as a certified data processor and formerly a certified systems professional more competent to talk about his work at Microsoft than he is about education. Yes, he got obscenely rich, primarily by somewhat predatory business practices, selling inferior products.

          Remember, his big break of selling an operating system to IBM for their early personal computers occurred when he did not have an operating system, and neither he nor Paul Allen wrote the first version - they bought it from someone else.

          Far too many of his products have been buggy, full of security holes.

          "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

          by teacherken on Sat May 11, 2013 at 03:06:58 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Who died and made you judge (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          teacherken, FloridaSNMOM

          As to this girls usefulness and value solely in terms of monetary/material accumulation and value. You fall into our societies warped view that accumulation of wealth and material things equals value and happiness. Please just stop.

          What makes you think in her current career she won't impact peoples' lives in far more intangible and tangible ways than you will eve know, just because perhaps she may not have a McMansion and 2.5 kids by her 40s. In her Current path, she has the potential to impact many lives in ways that only can be judged by her and those whose lives she touches, and not by some one like you who deems what she does to be a waste, based upon concrete and imho wealth measures and job title.

          I pity you that you cant seem to understand that ones accumulated wealth and/or a prestigious job don't necessarily mean value nor does it guarantee happiness in society.

          Government of, for, and by the wealthy corporate political ruling class elites. We are the 99%-OWS.

          by emal on Sat May 11, 2013 at 03:44:58 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Fine whatever (0+ / 0-)

            Just I don't want to see her marching in OWS is a few years protesting her $85k in debt and demanding better pay than $27k a year.

            I will turn a deaf ear.

            (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
            Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

            by Sparhawk on Sat May 11, 2013 at 05:48:44 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  why shouldn't she march? (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              annetteboardman, FloridaSNMOM

              she has every right to protest about the skewed values that exist in American society regardless of what she is paid, and if you don't believe that what the hell are you doing on Daily Kos?

              I have a suggestion for you.  Stay out of my diaries, since you do not agree with me on anything.

              Post your own diaries and then take on this community there.

              "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

              by teacherken on Sat May 11, 2013 at 06:22:50 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Ken (0+ / 0-)

                She had the opportunity for a remunerative and challenging career. She explicitly chose not to take the opportunity and to take one in "theology and social work".

                Her (likely) future salary has nothing to do with skewed American values. She will be paid what her skills are worth (not very much). Your opinions (and my opinions) aren't relevant here: the important things are what she wants out of life and what the market is likely to provide her. She chose this field and chose the salary that comes with it. She had other options and chose not to take them.

                And I would ask you not to "suggest" that I stay out of diaries on this blog. Disagreement is a good thing.

                (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
                Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

                by Sparhawk on Sat May 11, 2013 at 06:56:22 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  You are really just showing your own (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              teacherken, Mostel26

              Values and priorities.

              I will leave you with this.

              One hundred years from now it will not matter what kind of car I drove, what kind of house I lived in, how much money I had in the bank, nor what my clothes looked like.
              One hundred from now it will not matter what kind of school I attended, what kind of computer I used, how large or small my church, but the world may be a little better, because...
              I was important in the life of a child. --Anonymous

              Government of, for, and by the wealthy corporate political ruling class elites. We are the 99%-OWS.

              by emal on Sun May 12, 2013 at 02:54:09 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  This woman's life is beginning and not over (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      teacherken

      From what Ken tells us, social justice is at her core, not medicine.  Given her talents, she will find a way to make a living doing what matters to her most.  It's clearly not money.

      At some point she may decide to make her contribution to society via another form of health care, perhaps as a PA or in public health and not as an MD.  Or maybe as a social worker who focuses on needy or abused children.

      Ever thought of the heavy debt burden that goes with a medical degree?

      One of my graduate school room mates became a physician.  This person is still in debt, and their own children are now in college.

      The daughter of a friend decided in her late 30's that she wanted to become an MD.  However, the late start, coupled with the prospect of taking on heavy debt, caused her to reassess.  She is a now PA who currently is employed in a large city jail.  I believe she specialized in women's health.

      The obvious career paths are not always the best ones for an individual to follow.  Or the best for society, either.

      •  I have a sister-in-law with similar tale (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Heart of the Rockies

        pushing 40 with 3 boys when she decided she was interested in medicine - looking at time and cost decided to become PA and now in primary care with a great deal of freedom from her supervising MD

        "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

        by teacherken on Sun May 12, 2013 at 06:33:00 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Teaching (4+ / 0-)

    I firmly believe my worth as a teacher is something I expect I will never really know. However, I hope that my worth is making a positive effect on future generations....reminds me of parenting.
    I just want to thank all of my teachers. It has allowed me to feel that the future is something I look forward to.

    That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow (man)

    by parkslopper50 on Sat May 11, 2013 at 02:37:35 PM PDT

  •  Conversely (0+ / 0-)

    For as many that stayed in contact, how many didn't, and why wouldn't I withhold raises on the basis of how many didn't?

    http://callatimeout.blogspot.com/ Jesus Loves You.

    by DAISHI on Sat May 11, 2013 at 02:50:27 PM PDT

    •  you are misinterpreting (2+ / 0-)

      I was not saying to use that number as the basis of differential pay.  I was saying that it was an indicator to me of the positive impact I was having.  I don't believe in "merit" pay.

      "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

      by teacherken on Sat May 11, 2013 at 03:02:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Merit? What IS merit? (5+ / 0-)

    How do you measure? How do you quantify and monetize it?

    The students a teacher gets to teach have all sorts of different cultural backgrounds, family situations and community circumstances that all affect outcomes.  

    A good teacher makes a huge difference but how do you measure all the variables to determine and quantify the difference the teacher made vs. another teacher in the same school or elsewhere.

    Teachers should be compensated so that they can focus on their passion.  And it has to be passion, it's the only thing that makes sense if you are going to be a teacher.

    Daily Kos an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action.

    by Shockwave on Sat May 11, 2013 at 02:51:53 PM PDT

  •  Trust (4+ / 0-)

    is what made me a "successful" teacher. The kids, parents and administration trusted me to do my best for them. I trusted the kids to give math and physics a chance to become part of their world. They expected effort. I expected effort. I had a great scam going that lasted 35 years (33 at one school).
    For a span of time I was a semi-famous teacher, but only because I was blessed with great kids. At no time did I want to take too much credit, but I have been very proud of almost all my students.
    Merit pay? I wouldn't know how to set up the system. Teacherken, I told you before you would always be a teacher.

  •  Your comments... (2+ / 0-)

    Your comments on education and students never fail to touch my heart.  I've spent a lifetime, it seems, teaching technical subjects...sometimes successfully, sometimes not.  I've seen my students start their own businesses using the skills I've taught and I've had mothers send me notes about my positive effects on their sons, "he talks about your class all the time".  I earlier taught wood shop classes so there were mostly boys in my classes...at least in my early years.

    Lately I've made the segue into computer applications...graphics, architecture, engineering, etc...what shop has become after Texas shut down most of the wood shops in schools.  And I've seen the interaction I use to have with each youth, as they crafted wood with tools and machines into objects of both beauty and utility, become harder to achieve as the students now interact mostly with a computer monitor.

    "I should be paid an adequate amount for the work I did."  I take exception to a certain extent to your words in this comment.  While I understand your reasoning for the statement, I object to, and have always objected to the notion that teachers should be "adequately" paid.  Teachers, at least in Texas and in particular in country school districts in Texas, have always been notoriously poorly paid with country teachers being paid as little as half what an urban teacher was compensated for the same work.  And urban teachers were being paid 75% of the compensation of other professions.  This was thought to be adequate.

    Teachers should be compensated at the same level that other professionals are paid...professionals such as engineers, accountants, architects and the like.  Instead we are the poor relatives in professional life.

    Adequate is not what you do.  It is not what I try to do.  Why should you or I bow our heads, so to speak, and just ask for adequate pay for our teaching?

    I am a 67 year old teacher...teaching computer applications in a Texas high school. I've already retired once but it didn't take.

    by 43yearsateacher on Sat May 11, 2013 at 04:21:06 PM PDT

    •  I did not define "adequate" (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      annetteboardman

      because it is was not germane except in the sense of merit pay being thereby obviated

      I am not disagreeing on being paid comparable to what my education, experience and skills warrant.

      Of course, right now the fact that I have a pension and Social Security and am covered by my wife's federal employee medical insurance means that I do not have to focus on compensation as much as I seek to return to the classroom.  I could therefore wind up in a school that does not even pay as well as public schools and for myself right now that would be adequate.  Or I could be in a half-time or 2/3 time position and still be satisfied.

      I will note, having been a local government civil servant making far less for my computer skills in salary than I could have made in the private sector, part of the tradeoff to which we as public servants, including teachers, have agreed is less pay up front in return for the deferred compensation of a defined benefit pension.  That provides us with a long-term financial security to which many today do not have access.

      That was true for me because I worked for a liberal local government (Arlington VA) and taught in a state (MD) which had a unionized teaching force and as a heavily Democratic state has not YET totally sought to balance its budget on the backs of teachers.

      "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

      by teacherken on Sat May 11, 2013 at 05:16:36 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Tipped & rec'ed; I hate Americans nt (0+ / 0-)
  •  None of that shows on a test (4+ / 0-)

    I teach middle school, so I'm in the jungle so to speak :P

    Your effect on their life is not whether or not they know that if Jenny sells 5 less peanut butter sandwiches than she did yesterday that she sold 10% less, but whether or not they'll be inspired to go onto college or tackle life.

    My most inspirational teacher was my 8th grade science teacher.  The woman made it her quest for me to understand that I was smart.  She didn't do it out of vanity, she wanted me to "get it" on a gut level that I was intelligent and I just had to put forth the effort to do whatever I wanted.

    She is why I'm a teacher now.

    "Hatred is never appeased by hatred in this world. By non-hatred alone is hatred appeased. This is a law eternal."

    by sujigu on Sat May 11, 2013 at 06:25:36 PM PDT

    •  There are at least 4 8th graders (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      annetteboardman, sujigu, FloridaSNMOM

      that I taught in 2.5 years in my first school that I know of who are now teachers in that school system.  THere may be more.

      There were a few I taught in 8th grade whom I also taught in hs.  I think of one in particular, who passed up on an internship to take an elective with me her senior year, and persuaded four of her friends who had not known me that they should not pass up the change to have me as a teacher.

      There is also one young man from my final year in that school that has regularly stayed in touch with me, including through all of his multiple tours of Iraq, his promotions in his guard unit, the various changes in his life.

      "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

      by teacherken on Sat May 11, 2013 at 06:40:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'll have to come and visit you (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        FloridaSNMOM

        I always like to learn from veteran teachers.  I'm working on getting my certification now, but it's so expensive to basically do college again!  Would be good to get some tips from the master to make it all easier.

        "Hatred is never appeased by hatred in this world. By non-hatred alone is hatred appeased. This is a law eternal."

        by sujigu on Sat May 11, 2013 at 06:49:06 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you for this diary, Ken (4+ / 0-)

    The "a college degree doesn't mean anything beyond the money you make" arguments are out in force today, and I have been really discouraged to engage in one of them in another diary, with someone I greatly respect generally.  It has just been frustrating.  This is a reassuring diary, and the comments help as well.  I appreciate the "this is what value is" presentation.  

    I am off to grade papers now.

    •  unfortunately I have one of those here (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      annetteboardman, FloridaSNMOM

      someone who shows up with regularity in my diaries, yet to my knowledge does not seem willing to present ideas in an own diary.

      I actually wish we had the old, old rating system.  The comments are a bit of a hijacking, but insufficient to warrant a hide rating.  A string of 1s out of 4 might make the point.  But then again, perhaps not.

      Sorry for your bad experience.

      "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

      by teacherken on Sat May 11, 2013 at 07:04:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Whatever happened to education providing (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      teacherken, drmah, annetteboardman

      us with the skills and knowledge to be good citizens? Somehow we've turned all schools into trade schools with the sole purpose of encouraging students to think of making money as the primary motivating factor in life.

      Furthermore, people who cannot think for themselves but are simply trained in specific skills will not have the intellectual and personal flexibility to adjust to a changing world.  This does them a great disservice personally and a great disservice to society as well.

  •  See, the problem is that you could never (3+ / 0-)

    convince the type of people who promote the idea of merit pay that you do what you do as a teacher from love - love of learning, love of trying to motivate others to love learning (and 99.9% of children do love it - this fact amazed me when I became a teacher), the joy of seeing children succeed at learning, etc.  

    They don't understand that.  They think that if they offer to pay you a couple grand more per year (please, don't make me laugh), you'll do what you do significantly better than before?  How utterly silly they are.

    The elevation of appearance over substance, of celebrity over character, of short term gains over lasting achievement displays a poverty of ambition. It distracts you from what's truly important. - Barack Obama

    by helfenburg on Sun May 12, 2013 at 05:00:25 AM PDT

  •  Reputation (0+ / 0-)

    I believe in the old-fashioned method.   Reputation.   If you aren't a good teacher, your principal and the other teachers will figure it out.    When parents start to complain, when teachers who get your students the next year realize they don't know what they are supposed to know, when students go into the next class complaining about some questionable practices, that raise the eyebrows of the other teachers, t starts to become obvious.

    AND, it raises the question of "What do you measure?"  I had some teachers in my life who maybe weren't the technically best teachers, maybe didn't cram quite as much knowledge into my head, but who were so nice, and engaging and interesting that they inspired a love of learning, whereas I had other teachers, who might have crammed another couple of teaspoons of knowledge into my head, but who left me despising schools and teachers and anything associated with learning.    So who was the better teacher?  

    My CEO held a meeting last week.   He just took over our major corporation, and he talked about how he got to where he is.   He said he got there through "mentoring".   He talked about having a series of mentoring sessions, and collecting two or three takeaways at each session, and at the end of the year, he had a list of 20-30 "golden nuggets".    Classrooms are mentoring sessions.   How can you measure how many golden nuggets (I am NOT talking about social studies facts), a child takes away from a classroom?   Or, how many stinkbombs?

    At the end of the day, children and fellow teachers start to figure out who is a good teacher and who is not.   But, the standardized test will never figure it out.

  •  Teacher's salaries, based on test scores mean (0+ / 0-)

    teachers of our most vulnerable students are punished for teaching students needing much extra attention. My S_I_L is a Special Education Teacher for Learning Disabled children.  In spite of current Indiana test score requirements for students necessary for a teacher's advancements, she is still teaching.  Sadly, as other Special Education teachers have given up teaching, S_I_L has gained more and more students.  Teachers who quit in her school system are not replaced.  Their students are placed into already overcrowded teacher class loads. Is it any wonder that now the state claims it's greatest need for teachers is for those with the extra preparation it takes to qualify to teach Special Education? Merit Pay a losing battle at every level

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