Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Teaching, as an art, not a science

Way back when as a new teacher, when people used to ask me, “What do you teach?”  I would answer, somewhat sardonically, “Children, I teach children.”

It amused me that so many of my peers, not in education, did not get it, looked down on me, and considered my job easy.  I knew if I said, “Math or science” they would give me some fake admiration, and then, politely remind me how much more money I would make if I had gone into research, or business.

It was the late 1960s’ when I began my teaching career at age 21.  And by the early 70s I knew that a) I picked the right career b) my job was one in which I had no conflicts with my basic anti war, free love, kumbaya soul acquired during my years in college.

More to come…..

I was a young idealist like so many of my peers.  But I had grown up in a rather poor family.  Neither of my parents had been given the opportunity for an education, my mother an immigrant whose parents died when she was young and pulled out of school to work by an authoritarian brother-in-law. My father was first generation from a large family (11 siblings) and left home before graduation to find work during the depression.

The fact that both my sister and I graduated college is a tribute to my parents who valued education.  My father, until the day he died, proudly announced wherever and whenever that one daughter was a registered Nurse and one was a teacher.

Books that influenced me early on in my career are “The Water is Wide” by Pat Conroy and “The Geranium on the Window Sill Just Died, but Teacher You Went Right On” by Albert Cullum.

I have always enjoyed, been lucky enough to be the recipient of praise from my students, their parents, administrators.  More than a few times I was nominated for “teacher awards” (some big (Milliken), some small and local which I turned down because I feel they are like Merit Pay, ultimately unfair and impossible to judge.  I did accept two nods for “Who’s Who in American Eduation” because there is no monitary award and no hoopla.  Academically successful college students are given the opportunity to nominate one of their past teachers who they think influenced them in a positive way.  Names go in a book which is available to those named to buy.  Done.  Finished.  

The reason I explain all this is to give you a sense of who I am and have been.  Now, I am a semi retired (I occasionally substitute) educator. I was in public education for forty years. Thirty of my years were in the classroom.  Two years I was a specialist with Title 1 programs; for eight years I was the media specialist running the library and computer network for an elementary school in a large district.  My MA is in “Educational Technology.”  I also have an MA equivalent in Counseling.  Overall I have an MA plus 130 credits above.  While I mostly taught grade 6 in elementary I also put in a few years in middle school and for ten years was an adjunct professor for the MA program for teachers at a liberal arts college.

I am discouraged and disappointed in President Obama’s continuation of what I consider the right wing philosophy of testing and training for public schools.

I recently read that President Obama and Sec Duncan want to push the notion of national standards, which I believe is the precursor for national testing.…

I also disagree whole heartedly with the public funding of charter schools and am adamantly against the notion of Merit Pay.  I saw first hand what happened with “teaching awards” both local and on the national level.  Who wins these awards is not necessarily the best teachers, but rather the best at being able to sell themselves to others.  More often than not, these awards are won by those with the best pr skills or pr friends.

And there is cheating…..even for the awards that give no monetary prizes.  Can you imagine when big money is involved how much “cheating” there is.  It happens now. I saw it (and yes, it was reported but to no avail…that’s another diary).  

John suggested I write a diary to get a discussion started. I fear my personal history and views will overwhelm and bore but I felt it necessary to let you know my personal biases up front.

And before I pose some questions here are a few anecdotal stories to fuel your thinking.

*As I said, I now substitute occasionally.  A school in which I sub is one of the highest scoring schools in our state. It is a public school in a nice neighborhood.  It is near the college where I worked in the MA program.  Several students at the school have parents who work at or attend the college.  Also there are many doctors and lawyers living in this upscale neighborhood.  To the east of the school is a more modest area, populated by many teachers.  So this school is does well.   There is a safe house for abused women near there but the number of students from there is insignificant mathematically when it comes to scores. The staff is mostly good.  A few excellent teachers, and frankly two teachers I consider weak links.  However the scores for this school every year since NCLB have come in high.  The kids from affluent families who do not do well get tutors.  

Parents work with them.  If the school needs something the district won’t provide, a fund raiser will get it.  There are connections.  Parents who know this corporation is giving out “grants” and parents who have the expertise in grant writing to “assist” the teachers in writing it.

At this school there is a boy name S…..  I worked with him. He has a syndrome called “San Filipe Syndrome or type III mucopolysaccharidosis.

While there are many physical issues as a result, the one for this discussion is severe mental retardation that gets worse.  Life span is 13 to 15 years.  So this sweet little guy is seven years old, but has no language skills.  He can walk and make sounds but wears a diaper, and is more like a seven month old than a seven year old.  

I worked with him for three weeks, substituting as the school needed to hire someone.  He needs one on one at all times.  He needs to be fed, to be changed and there are attempts to teach him skills.  He likes to put things in his mouth just a baby does.  He laughs and cries but one must figure out why.  Because the teachers and aides must eat, must use the restroom themselves, and work with other special needs/learning disables students, it takes a team effort for this child and intense scheduling.

Every minute with S, takes from a student who has to be tested for NCLB.  Also in this school is a child with Downs’ Syndrome, a child with Fragile X, and a child with ideopathic seizure disorder who must wear a helmet whenever he plays.

Now because this school is so heavily loaded with high performing academic students, the impact on the school of these special needs children is not so noticeable except to those who work there.  

On the other hand, a close friend of mine works at the lowest performing school in the district, a school where the free lunch percentage is the highest with over 80% qualify (while the first school has less than 5%).  In that school, one that I worked at before I retired, there were entire families of special needs students.   As well, they were recently impacted with two Downs’ Syndrome students, and one student with another physical syndrome that also was accompanied by mental retardation.  As well, there was a young CP student from a poor family…she had no language, could not walk (though had she had support at a younger age her muscle and language development would be improved…and through the efforts of that s
taff getting the Shriners involved, the child was given one on one tutoring, physical therapy and doctors who did a surgery to increase her chances of becoming mobile. It was clear to the staff this child was bright if only she could communicate with us…raising money to get her specialized computer equipment became a goal for the staff).

So who should get the Merit Pay….the first staff

that I described that earns an EXCELLENCE BANNER yearly due to test scores.  Or the second school which sadly, despite improvement in scores yearly, still is at the bottom of the heap.  

Should the teachers who work lovingly with S get merit pay even though he will never take a test?  Or the teachers who worked so hard to get the medical help for the CP child and raise money to get her computer equipment?  And while much of the special needs team was working with those students, what about the teacher who has five special ed kids in her regular ed classes?   As hard as she tries, she cannot meet the needs of all her third graders.  FIVE are Unsatisfactory, when it comes to the state tests.  One is Advanced.  Should she work to move the five U’s to Proficient?  But she also has ten who are HIGLY Proficient.  A few more points MIGHT get those kids to Advance and the way the scoring works, getting a few U’s moved to P would do little but getting a few HP kids to Advance might really help the school.  As one administrator asked, “Which way gets us more bang for our buck when it comes to AYP (average yearly progress)?”  In other words, who should we help more based on how we look to the world rather than who needs the help.

Another question: Suppose you are a young, gifted teacher, and no matter how hard and long you work, your school is at the bottom.  The kids are poor, the transition rate of families is over 60% (meaning most of the kids you teach in first grade will not even be there for third, fourth of fifth grade for testing).  Due to retirement an opening comes up at the high scoring school!  You have a great rep, you know you are good, and you are tired of being beat up in the press for failing (you are your school).  And the notion of MERIT PAY for bringing in the scores is tempting since you struggle with your salary as you have neither the years or degrees that get you your increases.  

What do you do?

This is my attempt to get a dialogue going.  I am not a researcher but I will point you to research and places where others have been less emotional or artsy about this topic.…


  1. ragekage

    I’ve never been a teacher, or known one… the way I’ve seen this issue has been that most professions offer bonuses and salary increases to exemplary employees. Why should teaching be the exception? Of course, I see the pitfalls, the “slippery slope”, and I sure as heck don’t want teacher’s merit to be decided on, say, test scores alone. That would be ridiculous. We’ve already seen what No Child Left Behind wreaks. Maybe there’s a middle ground?

  2. HappyinVT

    I graduated a little more than 2 years ago and managed to move to an area that is sadly (for me) not experiencing a teacher shortage.

    I am torn with regard to merit pay.  I’ll have to mull the arguments pros and cons of both.  There are a lot of potential pitfalls although I wonder if the administration of such was left up to each district if some of these might be mitigated.  I do think administrators need to be more involved in monitoring teachers in the classroom.  Checking grades on a computer or popping up in a classroom once a semester isn’t enough.  Although I’m pretty sure I had a principal listen in over the loudspeaker at least once while I was subbing.

    I have seen teachers who are highly valued because they strictly teach to the test therefore they have the “proof” that they are “great” teachers.  I’ve seen teachers who put more value into teaching social studies (my area) with an eye toward real life uses versus strictly teaching the important dates, facts, people.

    Students tend not to like social studies because they see it as the study of a bunch of irrelevent dead dudes that has no bearing on their life.  Math was hard for me because I didn’t understand why I should care about x+y=z.  Frankly, I still don’t but I’d never tell a student that.  Making students care about the subject through real life needs is so important and is being more understood and adapted.

    It is also unfortunate that communities see low income children (and schools) as someone else’s problem.  These kids are generally the ones who need the most help.  I was substituting when I first moved to Vermont.  There are two schools in a lower income neighborhood.  I am ashamed to admit that I tended to cringe when I got a call to go to these schools.  The kids can be exhausting mentally and physically.  But they deserve the best that we can give them and are well worth the effort.  Once I gave myself a stern talking-to I really liked going to these schools.  Yes, I was still dog tired when I got home but the sense of accomplishment was so mucher greater than when you can breeze through the day.  It was a reminder about why I wanted to teach in the first place.

    Finally, I think we need to take a serious look at how new teachers are introduced into a classroom.  One thing President Obama has mentioned several times is having mentor teachers.  I’m sure some schools do this already but I think it should be incorporated everywhere.  I was a long-term sub right after I graduated and, although I had done some of my student teaching at that school, knowing that you are reponsible for the lessons, the attendance, the grading records, discipline, etc. can be intimidating.  I was basically thrown in early in the semester and sank or swam on my own.  I came out of it just fine (I ain’t a spring chicken) but if someone hasn’t had an extensive work history starting the first day at a job is bad enough.  Having to do it with a room full of students is another.

  3. thank you for this diary. Education is one of the keys to future success for individuals, their communities and their country.

    I’d also like to thank you for your dedication to this cause. I’ve known a lot of teachers and every one of them has been dedicated. Teaching, like nursing, seems to attract people who care.

    You make it very clear that merit pay is an iffy prospect. I already agreed with this, as was obvious from what I’ve written in other diaries, but now I’m even more inclined to doubt its practicality.

    I suppose one type of merit pay might be to reward those who make extra efforts towards furthering their own education. However, this is already done in some ways through salary raises and tuition assistance.

    One thing is for sure, as you have so clearly shown, we can’t base it on student test results. We can’t base it on teacher popularity, obviously. We can’t base it on principals’ recommendations, because that way leads only to cronyism.

    Here’s a thought, maybe we can give merit pay for parent/teacher meetings. Teachers who exceed a certain baseline would get rewarded for each additional hour they spend in P/T meetings.

  4. Jjc2008

    for encouraging me to write this diary. Don’t know that it will get the resulted conversations we need but it’s a start.  

  5. I went to a public/state school, unlike a lot of my peers at University, but my only experience of US education was a graduating high school year exchange to Boston. The education was great – the teachers phenomenal: I didn’t pay a bean but it was a private school, and so obviously atypical.

    A word about incentives for good teachers though. Many anti union legislation was carried about by Margaret Thatcher in the 80s, and she simultaneously cut back teacher’s wages, status, and sent her own kids to private schools.

    Labour came to power in 1997 with education as the major plank of their platform for economic renewal. They gave state schools a lot more money, but insisted on productivity in return: targets were set, tables published, failing schools were subject to emergency teams. Schools could manage their own budgets, and get out of local control. Teacher pay went up massively, but only if student results improved.

    On your point about schools from poor neighbourhoods, with kids who had little access to books at learning at home, the measurements were changed to incorporate the idea of ‘value added’. In other words, the best schools in the country were not those deemed to get the best academic results – but the ones who got the most IMPROVEMENT from their students.

    The mother of my two children comes from a family of teachers, and they were at first resistant to these changes. But they also saw, like I did, how phenomenal some of these changes were. Every school my kids have attended from primary to secondary (high school) were previously failing schools, but thanks to motivated teachers, have turned it around.

    My son graduated from Drayton Manor last year, and my daughter has another two years there. I’m always amazed by how great their teachers are – how smart, informed, motivated and caring they are about how Alex and Katy do. Ten years ago the school was famous for a rape on the premises, and high levels of indiscipline. A few years ago it was nominated a beacon school (i.e. one of the top in the country) and its headmaster knighted – Sir Pritpal Singh.

    I think every profession must renew and improve itself all the time. There is never any room for complacency – the lives of our kids, their education, ability, our future depends on it. For that reason, I don’t object to some kinds of measures of ‘best practice’, and autonomy from some of the heavier kinds of bureaucratic oversight can be beneficial. We too have many more charter schools these days – a form of independence within the state sector. It seems to have improved things.

    So while I think all your concerns are legitimate, there are ways of reforming things to serve the best interests of those who are most important: i.e. the children.

    Teachers are remarkable public servants, and I believe they know the measure of their success is the public good of education. That’s what counts.  

  6. Jjc2008

    I understand what you are saying.  It’s been done here too…

    they have actually put extra money into the pockets of the teachers and the school itself when it showed “improvement” on test scores.  

    But it did not last.  Why not?  Because in the end, there was cheating.  It happened in W’s Texas, where the whole NCLB mentality started.  W’s years as the TX governor pushed all these “reforms” and there was bragging about how improved the schools were…until years later, the truth came out.  The fix was in.  In some cases, it was out and out cheating by principals and teachers fearing loss of jobs; and in some areas the whole “encouraging poor performing students to drop out” before the tests came to light.

    If I take a student from the 1 percentile to the 10th percentile that is a huge jump. One year I had three students who started out on the 1 percentile and they all made huge jumps.  On the other hand, my students in the 90th and above percentiles barely jumped at all, maybe one point, some not at all.  Statistically it is much easier to make those jumps look impressive when there is no where to go but up.  

    Was I a better teacher for my lower performing students than for my higher performing students?  I don’t believe so.

    When students are already high up there the jumps are much harder statistically.

    Now if you look at what I said, if we reward on test scores, there are a myriad of ways to cheat, and even worse, students start being viewed as potential scores, rather than as individuals.  In fact my whole point is that if we continue trying to figure out how to improve test scores, in order to decide how well a school is doing, I believe we are failing all students.  Statistically, low performing schools have learned some things over the years of NCLB and the AYP game.  If you take kids from HIGLY PROFICIENT to ADVANCED, or PROFICIENT TO HIGHLY PROFICIENT you do better overall.  Taking kids from UNSATISFACTORY to Proficient barely moves the overall school scores.  

    Transfer that from a school to a teacher competing for moneies.  To me, so wrong.

    So every one says, “Well, it can’t be just test scores to determine merit.”   So tell me what and how!  Principal/administrator judgment?  Popularity with students (the PE teachers in elementary would get all the money)? with parents?  How do you judge a kindergarten teacher whose students’ successes  may not show up for 12 years?  And does he/she get credit for that child’s great start in school or does that student’s advanced math teacher take all the credit.  

    Teaching is like planting a seed, and if you are in early childhood education, you count on others (parents, other teachers) to water and nurture that seed.  

    We need reforms in education but we cannot make those reforms work without reforming society itself. A lot of the inherent problems in education do directly reflect the problems at large. Poverty impacts a child in many ways, educationally only being one of them.  The health and safety of that child as well as the health and safety of the environment in which that child lives.  A parent’s attitude toward education, toward the school, has an impact.

    Just because I don’t believe MERIT pay or don’t believe nationalizing standards will work, does not mean I don’t mean things cannot be improved or need to be.  

    MERIT pay in my view is all wrong because there is no fair way to measure it and you know, with limited resources, not all will get their deserved merit and some will get it without deserving it. In fact I see it as morally wrong and ridiculously unfair.   Competing for money between schools and teachers I believe hurts kids.  I would prefer all teacher’s salaries go up to entice more talent; I would encourage more money put into teacher preparation and teacher mentoring from experienced teachers.  

  7. so happy to see a post from you – good stuff.  i briefly taught in both canada and in korea and as to the idea of merit pay – NO!  when we value the educators of our children say as much (or more) as professional athlete we might be headed in the right direction.  

    what would merit pay include – student achievement gains? satisfactory evaluations by principals or committees? acquiring additional duties? gaining new skills and knowledge, and serving in hard-to-staff schools?

    none of the dozens of merit pay plans in north america, south america, asia, europe, and the middle east. has ever had a successful track record in the sense that it has ever produced its intended results. any gains have been minimal, short-lived, and expensive to achieve.

    but that hasn’t prevented states and school districts all over the world from venturing into this misguided plan to waste money and further strain an already exhausted systems.

    yet a good case can be made for merit pay, if that means higher salaries for higher professional achievement. but that can only be accomplished by instituting education reforms that include a career ladder in which teachers can, by acquiring the skills, knowledge, responsibilities, and certification, climb from one career level to the next — for example, by advancing from associate teacher to teacher, then professional teacher, and finally chief instructor.

    and by further professionalizing the practice of teaching so that teachers work in teams instead of in isolation, increasing collaboration and accountability. and by including professional development in the career path of all teachers, just as in other fields such as medicine and law. these steps must all be taken together in order for any of them to succeed.

    public education cries out for this kind of fundamental reform. but it will never happen as long as policymakers continue to be less interested in improving teaching and learning than they are in drawing attention to themselves to press a political agenda.

    when i lived and taught in asia and will tell you that being a teacher is consider the most respectable profession (monetarily as well).  yes even more than doctors and lawyers and they seem to ‘get’ the concept that education is king.

  8. Jjc2008

    from you this is a great compliment as I have read and respected your diaries here and on MyDD.  

    You succinctly said it all.  I love this especially:

    yet a good case can be made for merit pay, if that means higher salaries for higher professional achievement. but that can only be accomplished by instituting education reforms that include a career ladder in which teachers can, by acquiring the skills, knowledge, responsibilities, and certification, climb from one career level to the next — for example, by advancing from associate teacher to teacher, then professional teacher, and finally chief instructor.

    and by further professionalizing the practice of teaching so that teachers work in teams instead of in isolation, increasing collaboration and accountability. and by including professional development in the career path of all teachers, just as in other fields such as medicine and law. these steps must all be taken together in order for any of them to succeed.

    So many of us have pushed for this for years using our teachers’ organizations/unions and bargaining.   We have made small gains but not nearly enough.  Most of us ended up lifting our salaries with more and more education (at our own expense…few districts pay for this).    But in the end, districts strapped for money in a time when the right has made the anti tax meme so popular, wanted to rid themselves of higher paid, more experienced, more educated and more expensive teachers.  One of the way charter schools got a foothold here in the very anti tax, conservative district in which I live, was their promise of “cheaper.” Without the master agreement or collective bargaining, the charter school could do whatever they wanted with staffing.  So their approach was one “master teacher” per level surrounded by new, inexperienced teachers who would follow the master teacher’s lead/supervison.  And the ability to consistently re staff kept costs down.  A so called “master teacher” could assign the duties any way seen fit (where under master agreements, extra duties are shared equally).

    Too many temptations for cronyism

    But in the end, there are ways to go forward, to improve…to put the students needs first, to take them forward from where they are, to individualize.  But it costs more than some want to pay.

    I read this years ago on a poster:

    If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.

  9. is one of the top schools in the state, if not in the nation. The district is in the more affluent part of the county and is very well-funded. They have multiple programs for students and their graduation rate is astronomical.

    I found this page with information about the schools.

    · All schools in the Grand Blanc Community School District received an “A” on the Adequate Yearly Progress Report Card.

    · Grand Blanc is ranked among the top Michigan schools academically based on MEAP scores.

    · Our dropout rate is less than 0.34%

    Those scores are certainly tied into the funding the schools get, but I don’t think that is the whole story. There is also this –

    · All teachers who teach Core Academic subjects have achieved Highly Qualified status at all grade levels.

    · Nearly 4,600 families contributed approximately 71,500 hours of their time to individual buildings and district wide activities.

    Those advantages lead to this kind of thing –

    · Over 90% of Grand Blanc High School graduates enroll in an institution of higher learning.

    · SchoolMatch, an organization serving Fortune 500 companies, selected Grand Blanc Community Schools for its 2006 “What Parents Want Award.” This recognition is awarded to only 16% of the nation’s 15,573 public school districts.

  10. was working with my grandson just before dinner led to an interesting dinner conversation. I thought I would pass on a couple of things that came up in that conversation.

    It was pointed out that students learn at different paces, yet we throw them together based on age. Why is that? Shouldn’t it be based on what they’ve already learned? As it is now, you have some students sitting in a class that is over their heads and others who are bored with the repetition of things they understood the first time they saw it. Why can’t fast-learning 12 year-olds share a class with slow-learning 14 year-olds?

    Why are our grades based on age instead of learning level?

    Another thing that was discussed is the fact that this school district (see my comment above) has multiple programs to keep kids from falling through the cracks. That helps to explain their excellent graduation rates. Why aren’t these programs expanded upon and spread nationally? Shouldn’t we take programs that work and spread them everywhere? Seems to make sense to me.

  11. Jjc2008


    Ungraded classes have been tried in many districts for many years.  My student teaching year, which was 1966, I was placed in a school that was doing “ungraded”.  In essence,in some schools ungraded became a euphemism for “tracking by ability”.  It was challenged because it ended up going back to the old days of placement based on social class, race, ethnicity, etc.

    Here is an article that discusses this:

    Still in some schools, age placement is ignored in place of skills placement.  Some schools, then have the pre k, kindergarten, pre first and then first.  Early on these have no significant issues socially.

    As kids get older it is a problem.  Special needs students, now mainstreamed into regular ed could be problematic.  For example I have had students in sixth grade whose reading and math skills were on the first grade level.  But to put those students on that level would be inappropriate in so many ways.  One year, I did have a special needs 14 year old in my sixth grade.  It was a real distraction. His size and language use (his peers from the streets used totally inappropriate language and he did not have the skills to limit it to the streets) really made classroom management an issue.  Having a student shout out F*&^ the cops because he knows it will get him a laugh intefered with teaching and learning (and for the record he had a one on one aid but that did not solve the problem).

    In the case of “Doogie Houser” types, I don’t know what the research says.  I know in middle school, age appropriate placement is often as important as ability.  Adolescents are a difficult group on all levels, academically, emotionally, socially.

    In my own personal view, I think students developmental stages should be taken into consideration.  But the problem is this:  how do we account for the late bloomers who go into speed growth later on. For example some slow starters bloom, catch up and exceed, within a two year time frame…do we hold them back just to speed them up?

    I sincerely believe accommodations can and are made best within the classroom of students within a normal age range.  And these accommodations are achieved much more readily when class sizes are small, when materials are readily available.  In some schools they do it with a combo approach. For example the fourth and fifth grade teachers work together and group for ability/progress/skills sets for math and reading/writing while they group in “homerooms regardless of skills for art, social studies, science.”

    As for programs that catch problem students, a big issue is how heavily a school is impacted coupled with its funding (based on tax rates).  An affluent school can cover other needs (paper, pencils, materials) with parent help and fund raisers while other schools have to cover it with monies the school gets.  For example, schools have some discretionary funds.  So in an affluent school the staff can decide to spend that money on an art program, maybe a potter and a potter’s wheel for a grade level.  Maybe a group of the students who are academically frustrated soar in this art….and it is the turn around.  In a poor school, that “discretionary money” is used to buy dictionaries…

    It’s a complicated process…..

  12. Neef

    Personally, I don’t think the problem is really on the teaching end, in the sense that a kid who wants to learn, can learn. If teaching were the problem, a motivated student wouldn’t have the tools to learn, and even in urban schools I have not found that to be the case.

    I think the greater problem is that academics are fairly low on the priorities of many students. Our society isn’t doing a great job communicating the why of learning. Minus sufficient motivation, how effectively can you cram knowledge into someone under duress? We are essentially throwing knowledge at our children and hoping that it sticks, despite the child’s best efforts at avoiding this knowledge.

    I remember being a teen, hanging out on a corner with my peers, late into the night. We all had hopes and dreams and aspirations, but they were focused on dating this girl or that, performing well in a football or b-ball game, showing we were tough, and strong, and cool. Certainly at the time, academic studies were simply a burden to be navigated as efficiently as possible, they didn’t intersect our lives in any way that could be considered meaningful. I was an A student at my school, and the fastest on my track team – none of my peers ever mentioned my test scores in any context but rueful jocularity. They were quite proud of my speed. Speed was cool, sociology was not.

    How about, instead of merit pay, we start spending money on public relations and marketing? 2 or 3 times a year, bring in a motivational speaker. I’m not talking the head of the local Kiwanis club, I mean a Tony Robbins or Zig Zigler type – men who are paid to highly motivate adults. Sell the kids on the idea of education, get them hungry for it. Set up a county lottery for test scores, an A is 4 entries, a B is 3 entries and so on.

    We’ve become focused on producing better teachers, but I’m not sure we’ve addressed how to make better learners, which is actually our goal.

  13. sricki

    My mother has worked in the public education system for coming on 30 years now — briefly as a high school English teacher, a lengthy period as a junior high gifted teacher, and subsequently (and currently) as an elementary school gifted teacher. I agree with you wholeheartedly, as would she.

    It’s always such a treat to read a quality diary on education, especially when personal perspectives are involved.

    I wish I had more time to linger in this thread and discuss possible solutions and different ways of looking at these issues. As it is, I feel I am a bit stuck in my beliefs and stand staunchly against merit pay.

    (And have I ever mentioned my deep seated hatred of NCLB? Oh yeah… at length.)

    Thank you again for writing this. You are calling attention to issues which are often forgotten by the MSM.

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