2 great op-eds in today’s ABQ Journal: Teacher federal lands & merit pay

The Rio Grande Foundation hosted a discussion in Albuquerque on June 17 with Carl Graham of the Coalition for Self Government in the West. Carl had an opinion piece in today’s Albuquerque Journal detailing the reasons and potential benefits were New Mexico to demand and receive lands currently owned and managed by Washington (BLM and Forest Service).

A second, equally important piece was written by my colleague on the Board of the virtual charter school, New Mexico Connections Academy, former New Mexico Sen. Mark Boitano. In his piece, Boitano outlined in detail why effective teachers are so important for improved educational results, how pay for performance can help improve the quality of teaching, and what Connections Academy is doing, within the limits of New Mexico law, to retain the best teachers.

Both initiatives have great potential to improve New Mexico economically and educationally (our federal lands can generate a far better return for schools and our education system needs to improve to build a 21st Century work force). Gov. Martinez has been supportive of both efforts (particularly the latter in approving Connections Academy over the objections of the PEC). It is time for the Legislature and the rest of New Mexico’s leaders to step up to do better.

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4 Replies to “2 great op-eds in today’s ABQ Journal: Teacher federal lands & merit pay”

  1. Pay for performance? How is it still possible for supposedly intelligent people to talk about such things when the state has yet to prove they have even a clue about how to rate educators?

    School letter grades are based on a flawed system. Many teachers’ ratings are based partly on this flawed system. Now you want to base teachers’ pay on a system that is already doubly flawed?

    Kids learn best when teachers are encouraged to collaborate and given time during their duty day for this important process. This is what the highest-scoring European schools do. None of these high-performing European schools utilize “Merit Pay!” “Merit Pay” based on a flawed evaluation system will be even more demoralizing for educators.

    Even if “Merit Pay” is based on a statistically defensible evaluation system, it still won’t work because it destroys any motivation to collaborate. This has been proven every place it has been tried in education. It’s a zero-sum game because of limited financial resources. The attitude encouraged is, “Why should I help you when that could keep me from getting the increased pay I deserve.”

    When will any of you high-minded, ivory towered, never-spent-a-day-in-a-classroom, “reformers” decide it’s time for you to talk to actual educators? I hope it’s soon!

    1. I agree with part of what you say here Ken. I don’t think that a top-down state-run system is ideal. Far from it. Rather, in a competitive educational marketplace which doesn’t really exist, each provider would be able to evaluate their own employees as they see fit. This would help lead to diversity in offerings. Just because we support some system of pay for performance (and I do believe that there are ways to do this well even in the current system) doesn’t mean we advocate for doing things the same way things are done right now.

    1. So teachers don’t care about money, but they are willing to cheat standardized tests to get more of it? I know teaching isn’t a profession that is driven by money in the same way as some other professions, but my mom was a teacher and she talked all the time about how “underpaid” she was. It is a refrain I constantly hear from teachers.

      If financial incentives can be aligned with student performance (no easy task to be sure, but I do believe it is possible), I’d have to think that some form of merit pay could work. I’d love to see some experimentation and study here.

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