Merit 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 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.

     Minimum Foundation, 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.

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