Student Voice


November 30, 2023




Teachers should be paid on performance

February 22, 2007

The key to student success in America’s schools is motivated and well-paid teachers. If students are to compete in a world market, schools are going to need well educated, certified, well-paid teachers who are paid according to market principles.

Teachers are not as valued as they should be in modern day America. They work long hours, spend their nights grading papers, invest themselves in the success of the students and endure micromanagement from administration, state officials and parents.

It is because of these things that a teacher should get paid more. Nobody going into teaching does it for the money, but having a system of performance-based pay would increase motivation and quality in the teaching profession. In Barack Obama’s book, “The Audacity of Hope,” he says there is no reason why a teacher shouldn’t make $100,000 a year, but for a teacher to make that kind of bank, they need to be producing results.

Teacher unions have been long apposed to such legislation based on principle and poor implementation. Many union leaders are afraid that this creates inequality in the profession or slight some of pay increases. Teachers shouldn’t be denied pay increases, but let’s be honest, all teachers are not created equal, so why should we pay them the same?

Frankly, the implementation of such plans across the country is long overdue. It isn’t the stodgy posturing of the teachers unions that is keeping it from happening. Instead, it is because of state governments that aren’t willing to really invest in the infrastructure that such a plan requires. Most of the problem with the bills is implementation.

Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida, tried to apply such a plan, but failed to find a compromise that would benefit the teaching profession and, ultimately, the students. In his plan, only 25 percent of teachers would be rewarded a 5 percent bonus based on good performance. Every other teacher would be left out, getting nothing.

The biggest problem with these plans is the methods for assessing teacher performance, most of which center around test scores. Under this plan, a teacher who is motivated to get a raise would teach only what was on the test. If they teach to the test, their students will be “doin’ good.”

But this isn’t the case; teaching to the test undermines real education by limiting content. Let me ask you, have standardized tests been the defining part of your education? A more realistic plan would be one that evaluates lesson plans, student involvement, differentiation in curriculum, test scores, test performance increases, classroom management and quality of instruction.

It’s a complex profession, so why should performance be based on one thing? A student might score 65 percent, but if that score is up form 35% percent, the teacher deserves monetary rewards for the evident effort they are making.

Some say that the Market system doesn’t belong in the school, but I disagree. With the proper implementation and the proper investment, plans like this could do a lot to improve education. We’ve all had teachers who just don’t care anymore. Investing in quality teachers who are motivated is an investment worth making, inasmuch as by improving classrooms and quality of education, we are investing in the greatest natural resources this country has: the will of it’s workers for higher productivity and the minds of young people.

Kris Evans is a student at UW-River Falls.