Pay Again, Jackasses, and Same Histrionic Insults at Teachers (SH_T)!
(The following article appeared in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's GetSchooled blog.
I was questioned by a couple of bloggers of my opinion of merit pay for teachers in Georgia. Here
is my response which was published on January 12 2010.)
By Dr. John Trotter
What do I think of merit pay? It does not work in public education because kids are not inanimate objects floating down a
conveyor belt. All are different. Plus, rogue administrators will simply give the worst students (yes, there are some students
who are “worst,” despite the fixation on political correctness) to the teachers who refuse to kiss up and/or to
have sex with them. How is this so far for bluntness? By the way, Maureen [the blogmaster], if you blog my name along with
Arne Duncan’s name, you will see that my comment quoted in your August article “lit up the blogosphere,”
as one observer noted. I just believe in being honest about what is going on in public education. I have written extensively
on the woes of merit pay in public education. If you go to http://www.theteachersadvocate.com and to The Lion’s Roar! section, I think that I have an article there on merit
pay. I have worked in the only Georgia school system in modern times which was on merit pay, and the pay correlated with bu_t
kissing, pure and simple. I saw which teachers were getting merit pay, and it had nothing to do with “merit.”
It is another control mechanism which will be severely abused by dishonest, amoral, angry, and abusive administrators. More
rampant cheating will take place. But, it may help the State balance the budget, and this is really what it is all about.
Mac, I love the Blueberry Story. In fact, I was just showing a colleague
of mine a letter that I received from my father which is postmarked in November of 2002, and he included the Blueberry Story
in this letter. I have had this letter on one of my stacks of papers in my office, intending to have it put on our website
at MACE. You have indeed motivated me to post this story on TheTeachersAdvocate.Com. Thanks. It clearly and simply outlines
the problem with trying to tie teachers’ salaries to the performance of students. I remember the rich kids from the
Green Island Country Club being districted right past my father’s junior high (Daniel Jr. High in Columbus, Georgia)
so that they could attend public school at Richard’s Jr. High on the other side of town with fellow rich kids. When
the Assistant Superintendent Fred Kirby would periodically ask my father why his school’s test scores were not as high
as Richard’s test scores, my father, in his wise and intrepid way, would simply say, “Doc, you can’t win
the Kentucky Derby with Jackasses.” He was not calling his students jackasses; he was simply stating that you can’t
expect his school to have higher scores than Richards Jr. High School if you are shipping all of his rich kids to Richards.
It is indisputable that test scores and socio-economic scores are positively correlated. Teachers would have to be financially
stupid or financially independent to volunteer to teach in a poor school. What will happen? More and more rookie teachers
will be placed in the poor schools. They will not have tenure, and they will be encouraged (ever so subtly and sometimes not-so-subtly)
to engage in systematic cheating.
APEG, QBE, ITBS, GTEP, GTOI, GTDRI, CRCT, NCLB, AYP, A+ Foundation, and now Race to the Top. Race to the Flop is more like
what is going to happen. All of these programs are not worth SH_T. How do you like that acronym? Same Histrionic Insults at
Teachers. SH_T. No one wants to address the Four Horsemen of Public Education: (1) Defiant & Disruptive Students; (2)
Irate & Irresponsible Parents; (3) Angry & Abusive Administrators; and (4) Systematic Cheating. We often say this
at MACE: You cannot have good learning conditions until you first have good teaching conditions. This is a fact, Jack. ©
MACE, January 12, 2010.