Letters To The Editor: Merit Pay For Teachers
Posted by Leon Lewandowski on Mar 20, 2005 - 7:12:00 PM
MERIT PAY FOR TEACHERS:
A DISH NONE OF US SHOULD ORDER
Telling teachers that their pay is largely
based on their students' academic achievement is like telling chefs that they
get paid only if their customers clean their plates.
The chef may have
the most extensive culinary education. He may make the most delectable dishes
with only the finest of ingredients, and may take time to create his own
dishes, style and presentation. The chef may have learned from the best and may
be an excellent mentor, teaching other extraordinary chefs.
But, when it
comes right down to it, the chef has only minimal control over what the patron
eats. Maybe the patron doesn't appreciate fine dining. Maybe the patron has
come to the restaurant having recently eaten. Maybe the patron was brought up
in a family that always taught to leave at least one morsel on your plate.
When push comes
to shove, no matter how good the chef is, and how wonderful the meal he prepares,
it's really all in the hands of the patron. And, the chef has no control over
who his patron will be, nor how hungry she will be, nor what kinds of taste she
Like the teacher,
no matter how well she teaches, how extensive her education, how creative the
lessons, how many hours she puts in on holidays, weekends, before and after
school. No matter how good a teacher she is, she has no control over who her
students will be, nor how hungry they'll be for an education.
Sure, like the chef,
she can present an appetizing product that will hopefully inspire many to
partake, but she has no control over home life, nutrition, nor past life or
educational experiences. She can only serve her best dish and hope her student
To pay a chef
based on how well his customers eat is as ludicrous as paying a teacher based
largely on how well her students perform on an end-of-the-year test.
If the Governor
wants to pay based on merit, the bulk of that should be on the merit of the
teacher, not the results of the children. Look at education, school activities,
recommendations from colleagues, administration observations, creativity of
lessons, covering the state curriculum standards. This would of course be more
costly than looking at one test a year, but wouldn't it be more comprehensive,
and paint a truer
picture of the employee.
will start leaving the profession if they are judged by their students, and not
their, achievements in the field of education, leaving the profession in the
hands of inexperienced young teachers with no role models from whom to learn.
It will be like going to a five-star restaurant and finding your meal was
prepared by a McDonald's cook.
Leon Lewandowski is an elementary
school teacher in
Serving Bel Air, Benedict Canyon, Beverly Hills. Brentwood, Laurel Canyon, Los Feliz, Malibu, Pacific Palisades, Melrose, Santa Monica, Sherman Oaks, Studio City, Topanga, Canyon, Westwood & Hollywood Hills.