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Obama Just as Wrong as Daugaard on Teacher Merit Pay; Vote No on 16!

When I finish rattling off the numerous evidence-based reasons that we should vote No on Referred Law 16 to protect South Dakota's successful K-12 schools from Governor Daugaard's ideological wrecking ball, proponents often resort to saying, "Yeah, but President Obama likes merit pay for teachers, and you like President Obama; therefore, you must like merit pay."

My simple response: I like my wife. My wife likes squash. I hate squash.

My simpler response: President Obama is wrong.

I yield the floor to the Minnesota Progressive Project, which hammers teacher performance pay:

First, incentive pay for professional workers completely and utterly misunderstands motivation. This ten minute video on what motivates professional workers is a must for any leader or policy maker. At the behest of performance pay proponents, Vanderbilt University conducted the most exhaustive study on its effects to date. The results of this pro-performance pay study? It is a colossal waste of resources with zero bang for the buck.

Secondly, and more insidious, is the modern reform narrative this reinforces, on purpose. To assume performance pay will close the gap, you must assume teachers just are not working as hard as they can. But for a few extra bucks in the pocket, they would somehow answer more kids questions or grade a few more papers more closely. It reinforces the modern reformers claim that, "If we ignore all factors that affect student achievement except teachers, we can definitively claim that teachers are at fault."

Recently in Michigan they completed a total takeover of the urban schools by the staunchest, most vindictive of modern reformers. Their own evaluation scheme rated 99% of teachers as either effective or highly effective. Minnesota's top modern reformer has stated, verbatim, that 99% of teachers are fantastic. I will just have to take her word for it. If 99% of teachers are fantastic, and 99% of Michigan teachers are effective, or highly effective, why are we spending hundreds of millions on just 1% of the labor force?

The answer is simple, and the third reason why this law is so destructive. We know for a fact that successful schools, Charter, Private, Traditional, you name it, achieve success when all teachers work together on all students. Pitting worker against worker on an assembly line race might work in the business world. A student's achievement is dependent on an entire team of teachers working together over several years. The Super Teacher works great in movies, but it is neither scalable nor sustainable ["Alec," "Why Obama's New Teacher Incentive Pay Will Take Education Backward," Minnesota Progressive Project, September 28, 2012].

Both President Obama and Governor Daugaard are investing in a misapplied Hollywood/free-market fantasy. Referred Law 16 on South Dakota's ballot is our chance to tell them both they are wrong... and to protect our kids and teachers from bad policy.

One Comment

  1. Steve Sibson 2012.10.04

    "Both President Obama and Governor Daugaard are investing in a misapplied Hollywood/free-market fantasy."

    The so-called merit pay plan is not free-market. The school administration and the parents are not making the decisions, the central governmental authorites are setting the criteria for the merit pay. That is not free-market.

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