‘ED in ’08’ calls out the NEA

This is weirdly close to the recent related post, so the people who like to accuse will claim that I’m paying extra-special attention to this because ED in ’08 advertises on my blog, but since Cindi passed it on to me, I’ll show just how much I care for such folks’ opinions by passing it on to you (wait — did I say that out loud? how do I let them know because of the unfreezing process, I have no inner monologue?):

   WASHINGTON, Aug. 22 //PRNewswire-USNewswire// — Today Marc Lampkin, Strong American Schools’ ED in ’08 executive director, posted a blog entry on the Huffington Post criticizing a recent release from the National Education Association that responded to the recent Democratic debate and the candidates’ positions on performance pay for teachers.
   "Instead of celebrating the dawn of a true education debate, some groups want to end it. For example, the National Education Association released a press statement that seems to imply all the candidates answered the question the exact same way — they were against it.
   "Now that’s just mystifying to me. Anyone who watched Sunday’s debate should have seen a difference of opinion among the candidates. Yes, two candidates came out firmly against it. But when Stephanopoulos said ‘no one on the stage is for merit pay for teachers,’ one candidate jumped in to say that he definitely is for it. A second then asked for more time to clarify that he is for performance pay under certain circumstances. And a third offered his own version of performance pay-providing competitive salaries to compete with fields like engineering for top college students.
   "That’s exactly the kind of education debate we should be having — and the kind Americans deserve! Maybe the NEA just wasn’t watching closely. Maybe they simply missed the point. With American schools needing to hire 2 million new teachers over the next decade, we should all be discussing how to attract America’s best and brightest to teach our students-presidential candidates included. Let’s not squelch that important debate just as it’s getting started."

Cindi sent me that because I was thinking about writing in my Sunday column about all these groups that are making their presence felt in S.C., from AARP to ONE, and Mike and I had been expressing thoughts about how the limitations, and even deleterious effects, of such blogs (Mike’s quote: "a question of Astroturf replacing grass roots") and Cindi stuck up for them, saying they were, too, having a good effect, and she sent me the above release as her way of saying, See? So there.

I will say that in this case, this particular rep of the Bill Gates-funded group is doing a good thing. Readers of our pages will know that we favor merit pay, so how dare the NEA try to squelch debate, via the time-honored dishonest tactic of convincing everyone it’s already squelched. This does no service to the kids in public schools, it certainly doesn’t help the Democratic candidates with us swing voters, and, believe it or not, it does the NEA no good either — at least, it does them no good when their fannies are exposed like this.

Here’s hoping the NEA takes out advertising on my blog, too, so I can demonstrate my independence by kicking them some more over merit pay… (wait! did I say that out loud, too…?)

6 thoughts on “‘ED in ’08’ calls out the NEA

  1. Steve

    With the extreme shortage of quality teachers right now, merit pay won’t make a difference.
    I have two kids in high school in Richland 2. Neither of their math teachers speak English as a primary language and one of them has an accent so pronounced, she can barely be understood. Some of the new teachers in Richland 2 have been recruited from the Phillipines and are living in expenses-paid condos for the first three months of the school year.
    This is what you get when you allow growth to outpace infrastructure.

  2. weldon VII

    I like the idea of merit pay, but how would it work? Would teachers get bonuses based on the performance of their classes?

  3. Brad Warthen

    Here’s how I think of it as working: Just like out here in the mean old unfair private sector. Empowered principals would evaluate the teachers they supervise, and determine their level of pay, based on their performance.
    I’m sure some objective measurements could be devised that would be helpful. But there would be, and SHOULD be, a significant component of subjective judgment. As teachers keep reminding us when they complain about the overemphasis on standardized testing, there’s more to being a good (or a bad) teacher than that which can be measured objectively.

  4. Doug Ross

    In an ideal world, we would give principals more authority and discretion to reward their best people based on their observations. It should take into consideration a number of factors – but not test scores.
    I would base a merit pay system on 4 factors:
    1. Principal review
    2. Peer review
    3. Parent feedback
    4. Achieving professional objectives
    The current method of basing pay on years of service combined with degrees held has nothing to do with actual teacher performance. My kids have told me some of the worst teachers they have had were the ones with “Dr.” in front of their name.

  5. Brad Warthen

    That’s certainly true of some of my own worst teachers, way back when…
    I should point out that Doug filed his comment before my own was approved for publication, so he wasn’t copying me on the principals thing.

  6. Doug Ross

    One way to free up a large pot of money that could be used to implement merit pay would be to consolidate all the school districts down to a maximum of one per county. It’s been discussed many times before but there is too much political power within the current school boards to ever let that happen. Every dime spent
    on overhead is a dime lost to improve education in the state.

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