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View Diary: Why Obama's New Teacher Incentive Pay Will Take Education Backward (254 comments)

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  •  I won't comment about teachers but... (6+ / 0-)

    ... saying incentive pay doesn't work for professionals is ludicrous.  Just ask Silicon Valley if incentives work...

    •  In silicon valley (30+ / 0-)

      you see a lot of other incentives in play as well. Top notch cafeterias, foosball tables, massages, time to spend on pet projects, lots of legendary perks of various kinds.

      Teachers want to make enough money to be comfortable, but they also want to enjoy their day at work and feel successful every day. They want their kids to be successful. And so, a great school environment is a part of that. It starts with a terrific principal and good colleagues and a physical plant in good working order. It continues with reasonable class sizes and good support for any special needs.

      Teachers leave inner city schools because they don't feel successful there. I'm fine with making a more difficult assignment better paid, but we actually have many examples of this already, and it's not generally creating a critical mass of more senior teachers or of better test scores. I've seen teachers take $10k pay cuts to work in a more pleasant environment.

      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

      by elfling on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 10:16:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Of course.... (0+ / 0-)
        you see a lot of other incentives in play as well.
        I did not say otherwise.  Financial incentives are ONE of those incentives that contribute to that.

        I did not try to make the case that financial incentives are appropriate for education.

        However, to say that financial incentives do not work to motivate some people is insanely idiotic and fraudulently incorrect.

    •  It isn't ludicrous. (23+ / 0-)

      Studies show that when you pay people enough so they aren't worried about money, then not only are monetary incentives not effective, they often have the opposite effect.

      What people want more than anything in work like this (teaching) is autonomy, the ability to master what you're doing, and purpose. None of these have anything to do with money, and everything to do with how your workplace is organized.

      Never be deceived that the rich will permit you to vote away their wealth. - Lucy Parsons

      by cruz on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 04:18:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Look at the short video link I provided (9+ / 0-)

      It makes the point pretty powerfully that you are wrong.

    •  So, are schools/kids comparable (7+ / 0-)

      to 1,000 nascent ideas for products and/or services where 999 ultimately get thrown out and a lucky few 0.1% ers (quite literally) become obscenely rich?

      Somehow (I at least hope!) you didn't fully think the comparison through very well.

      •  No, they are not comparable (11+ / 0-)

        which is precisely why trying to apply free market principles to education is destructive in the extreme. The raw materials are not the same, the distribution of those materials is not objective or even remotely consistent, and the resources available for molding students are not even remotely consistent.

        •  That would seem to be self-evident enough (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          slatsg, YucatanMan, shaharazade, caul

          that you shouldn't have to say it * anywheres * - much less at a (somewhat?) progressive website.

          But live and learn I suppose.

        •  I'm a college teacher. I've taught for 30 years. (19+ / 0-)

          Every class is different. Sometimes you get very motivated students in a class and sometimes you don't.  Some students are way more intelligent, talented and hardworking than others in the same class. I assume this is just the same as working with people anywhere, except that teachers are now supposed to  be responsible for this.  With the business model we are now functioning under (with ill effects), we are supposed to influence every student positively in the same way.  This simply does not ever happen because the business model assumes the student is a "product" like raw clay, that you can mold however you wish, if you just work hard enough.  This is ridiculous. I have students who love me and claim that I have motivated them to go into my field and that I am their favorite teacher. I have students who don't like me at all and hate the subject, put forth zero effort in the class and blame me for it.

          Then there is the whole subject of "merit pay."  The teacher gets merit pay if he/she supposedly is a "good teacher." But who decides who is a good teacher? Do you trust student evaluations?  In our school, each department makes up their own evaluation sheet because it costs too much money for the university to invest in questions that have been vetted for neutrality.   We ask our students, for instance, "is this teacher a fair grader?"  Hmmmmm..... there are many teachers who will give way more As and Bs in order for themselves to get a "good grade" from their students on questions of this type.   Those who try to grade their students fairly but honestly are at a disadvantage and, the more these evaluations are emphasized, the more grade inflation you will get.   It's already to the point where a student will get a B- and come to you and complain bitterly that you did not "give" them a better grade.  

          The other thing about merit pay is that it pits you against your colleagues and creates bitterness and low morale for all the teachers who do NOT get raises.  This is especially true because the Chair of the Department who decides on who gets what raises --NEVER ever visits your class or may have no idea what you do because their area of expertise is not the same as yours.   This introduces inevitable questions of favoritism.  Combine this with the current atmosphere of teacher bashing in the culture at large, and the constant efforts on the part of the administration to force teachers to "prove" that they are getting the material across through top down "assessment" tasks, which basically means creating endless questionnaires that the students fill out before and after you introduce some bite-sized, pre-planned subject and other paperwork which requires hours of tedious data entry on the part of the teacher outside of class and  the whole thing is a huge morale buster.  Most of my young colleagues now regret getting the teaching jobs they worked so hard for and are thinking of changing fields entirely.   This is where things are going and pretty soon the entire education structure in this country will be destroyed if it doesn't stop. I'm glad I'm able to retire because I can't take it any more.

          BTW, if teachers were highly motivated by money, they would have gone into a different field than education in the first place. Most teachers I know are extremely hard-working and responsible people and care deeply about their students.  

      •  I didn't try to refute (0+ / 0-)

        that incentives shouldn't be used in education.  I can't.  The fact is, I am not convinced either way but can see many reasons why they might be harmful.

        I refuted that financial incentives never work for "non-mechanical" processes (see diary attached, absurd, video).

    •  Incentives hurt creativity (12+ / 0-)

      From Dan Pink"  

      If you want people to perform better, you reward them, right? Bonuses, commissions, their own reality show. Incentivize them. … But that’s not happening here. You’ve got an incentive designed to sharpen thinking and accelerate creativity, and it does just the opposite. It dulls thinking and blocks creativity.
      Incentives get people to work harder but less creatively.  The research on this is broad, deep and amazingly consistent.

      If you want a good model of this, look into what Google does with its employees.  It pays them well but it also encourages collaborative work over competition.

      "Trust only those who doubt" Lu Xun

      by LookingUp on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 06:50:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Stock Options are NOT "incentive pay" (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      YucatanMan, elfling, shaharazade, caul

      They are just pay, same as if you were paid in lottery tickets.  You might hit the jackpot, or you might not, but it's not as if you get more as an incentive to do better.  

      •  Stock options also tie the employee to the (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        elfling

        success of the company as a whole in that all employees -- line and staff -- have a stake in the company doing well.  With Google, that means innovating and improving on product.

        Google's model is not shared by all corporations however:  More often than not, it is restricted only to the more senior executive levels, where company performance on the short term (quarter to quarter) is at a premium to meet the market's demand for a certain level of profitability.

        You can't stand up for Main Street when you're genuflecting to Wall Street

        by caul on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 07:55:35 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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