Reading this Carl Bailik article in the Wall Street Journal about the merits of merit pay for teachers, I am struck by the notion that teachers require government-instituted merit pay evaluation programs in order to improve their performance. There is no such program for us PHP developers – nor was there any such program for press-brake and punch fabricator operators when those were my professions – but I don’t think anyone can seriously accuse me of soft-peddling my job as a result.
But granted, those professions I’ve held have all been in private industry: there’s no tax money going to pay for my salary. Fair enough. What, then, of other government professions? DMV clerks? Postal workers? Congressmen? And what are the benchmarks for those professions?
The truth is that professionalism cannot be quantified. And a lack of professionalism will certainly – as indeed the article notes – breed dishonesty. And either way, the only real test of one’s professional ability and ethics is personal observation. The fact is: you know who at your job is a fuck up and who isn’t.
So to what end are we imposing merit systems to teachers? What will it accomplish? The answer is: it makes politicians look good and taxpayers feel good to discuss the possibility. It might even make them both feel better once instituted: people might get a sense that they’ve accomplished something and made the world a better place. But really, its just a political football that is of more importance to the feelings of the players than it is of substance to the children being educated. mh.