Thursday, September 07, 2006
IOWA BLOWS MILLIONS
ON PERFORMANCE PAY PILOT PROJECTS;
IGNORES NEED TO FOCUS
ON INPUTS, NOT OUTPUTS
According to Monday's Des Moines Register, state ed officials in Iowa are planning to spend millions of dollars on a "performance pay" system even though there is lots of controversy over how it's being done, and lots of doubt about whether it will do any good.
The state will spend $1 million this year, $2.5 million next year, and $5 million the next, to stop paying teachers strictly by seniority, and work some performance pay into the mix with bonuses tied to student progress on standardized tests.
Criticism has included:
-- Spotty or even negative results from Iowa's last foray into merit pay and teacher retention several years ago.
-- Too much bureaucracy.
-- Too many committees.
-- A plan that basically pits teachers against their colleagues.
-- No way for specialty teachers, such as fine arts and special ed teachers, to participate because the value they add to a child's education isn't so easily measured on standardized tests.
-- A lawsuit over payments to the Institute for Tomorrow's Workforce, the consulting firm set up to carry out the pilot projects and funded with $1 million in state tax dollars, and a controversy over whether those firms should be allowed to hold "closed-door meetings" that bar the media.
-- Questions over whether a bonus of less than, say, $10,000, would be a significant incentive to a teacher, with flip-side worries over how on earth the state could afford to pay significant bonuses.
You know, they can hubbub all they want about this. But here's the thing:
IF THEY WOULD JUST REALIZE THAT IT IS THE METHODS TEACHERS ARE USING, ESPECIALLY IN THE EARLY GRADES, THAT ARE SCREWED UP, AND FIXED THEM -- PHONICS-ONLY READING INSTRUCTION AND TRADITIONAL MATH INSTRUCTION WOULD BE NOS. 1 AND 2 -- THEY WOULDN'T NEED TO BE DOING ANY OF THIS.
Geez Louise. Wake up and smell the boondoggle!
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