Missoulian wastes paper with editorial on teacher pay

Today’s editorial in the Missoulian is amusing. It’s on teacher pay. Apparently the paper doesn’t like the way teachers are rewarded with pay raises based on experience and education.

I admit, teacher pay scale isn’t the best I’ve ever heard of. Then again, every system I’ve ever seen is patently unfair or causes problems. The Missoulian advocates a pay scale based on two other factors:

Instead of years of service and credits obtained, steps and lanes ought to be based on the number of students taught and the level of proficiency those students attain. These are easy-to-measure criteria that are generally well-measured through things like standardized testing.

Great. All we need is more incentive for teachers to teach around standardized tests. Isn’t it clear to everybody that standardized testing…well…sucks? I want my kids to learn how to think, not to learn the tidbits and tricks that make successful test takers.

(Based on some of these Missoulian editorials, it seems like these guys must be very good test takers.)

So what’s wrong with the current system anyway? The Missoulian:

The current system makes it possible for mediocre teachers to earn some of the highest salaries simply by sticking with the profession and pursuing continuing education. This is a system that rewards unsuccessful teachers as well or better than successful ones. For example, it denies extremely effective teachers the pay they deserve if they’re younger or haven’t racked up the extra credits.

Er…this sounds like the same way most performance is rewarded. Don’t people think government should be run more like business?

And isn’t “service” and “experience” how you get to write editorials in newspapers? It certainly ain’t talent…

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  1. What a swetet editorial! Informed and insightful. One on hand, they ignore the fact that the Helena School District (you know, one that is 120 miles away) has a different pay scale, and that they suggest it would be ‘easy’ to come up with a new pay scale.

    I’m the first to admit that there are a ton of problems with education, and teachers–in fact, if I weren’t active in the business, my blog my have a lot more to say about it. The answer, unfortunately, isn’t some quick fix systemic solution. Applying systems to what are, often, people problems, just alienates the teachers and staff who are doing a good job. It’s just easier to implement a new system rather than focus on individual remediation.

  2. I didn’t even read it so as to avoid steam shooting out my ears, but it does really chap my hide to see them using the phrase “rack up the extra credits”. Would they say it’s unfair for a business to pay a person with an MBA more because they took the time to “rack up” their degree? It’s so incredibly patronizing in terms of the value of higher education for educators.

  3. steps and lanes ought to be based on the number of students taught

    This part really gets to me! This will encourage mediocre teachers support situations that lead to classromm overcrownding. I mean, why only ‘teach’ 20 to 25 when 50 would double your salary. This clearly was not a well thought out article. It ignores that main problem of getting quality teachers; why even enter the field when it is already so low paying.

  4. They also don’t consider how committed a teacher has to be to “rack up those credits.” Often the teacher does it on her own time — at night, during the summer — and on their own nickel. Unless you don’t believe in higher education, those degrees should be helpful and informative and improve the teacher.

    The Missoulian’s suggestion would remove any incentive a teacher might have to continue their education. Why would you, if you get paid more only for standardized test scores?

    H*ll, under the Missoulian’s system, I’d buy about thirty copies of one of those “cheat” guides for acing the test and hand ’em out to my students and play video games on my laptop while they do the exercises in the back…

  5. Does anybody else wonder how the Missoulian comes up with ideas for its editorial?

    I picture a small clutch of editors sitting in a darkened room smoking pot.

    “Hey man, teachers suck…”
    “Totally!”
    “What if we, like, paid them for teaching, man, you know, instead of, like, how much school they had.”
    “Man, that totally rocks. You’ve got to write an editorial about that.”

  6. I wouldn’t normally do this, but I just have to say…

    LOL

    …about your last comment, TS.

    I have to say that although I bitched mightily about the Tribune when I was living in GF (and get a lot of laughs from the copy editing at my current local paper), I am forever glad that my local option is not the Missoulian. Even when I lived in Missoula I didn’t subscribe, and that was before the current anti-education regime.




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