Total Pageviews

Search This Blog

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Why merit pay will never work, 20 pieces of silver

I wrote this a while back but it still rings true. -cpg

If you heard a few screams of joy coming from Ed White high school two Fridays ago it wasn't because a few pimply faced freshmen passed their first big test of the year, it was because a few teachers found a little note in their boxes notifying them they had been awarded the Duval Merit Award Program (MAP) performance pay bonus for the 2006-2007 school year, I was one of those teachers. If you don't know, the MAP bonus was given to the top twenty-five percent of teachers in Duval county and amounted to five percent of the average teachers pay or about 2200 dollars and change, even after taxes an appreciated and significant amount.

I was very excited to receive it, and more it was unexpected, you see when they announced the criteria for it very late last year, I thought there was no way I would get it. This despite the fact there were only two eligibility requirements and I met them both, having received a good evaluation and seen improvements in my students as well. The catch being they were going to use students F-cat scores to determine if they improved or not, and that was a problem for me, and not because like many teachers I feel it's an unfair assessment tool but because despite the fact my students are in high school, they don't take the F-Cat.

You see I don't teach math or science, or even English of history, heck I don't even teach art or P.E., no what I teach is life skills and personal safety, I sometimes jokingly tell people I teach the penny, the color brown, how to make popcorn, and the big hand on the clock, the joke however is, I am actually not joking, to (trainably) mentally handicapped (TMH) kids. How they were going to evaluate teachers in my area as well as art and P.E. and a few others was significantly vague, it seemed as if we were going to be left out, so when I left for the summer the thought of me getting the bonus, where it wasn't completely out of the question, it was nearly so.

So when I got it I proceeded to giggle like a little school girl while simultaneously doing a happy dance. After my giddiness subsided I went to share my good news with my colleagues, little did I know, I would soon be sneaking to my car with my head down.

I went to the classroom next store to share my good news with my good friend and fellow TMH teacher. He taught the same kids I did as they rotated back and forth between us and two other teachers, he was also my mentor at school (not only was 06-07 my first year at Ed White, but it was also a return to teaching for me, after some time in the private sector) and without him I would have been lost. I told him about my windfall thinking he probably received the bonus himself and he would be happy for me because in my mind he played a big part in me receiving it, but all I got was a rather cold "that's nice for you". He didn't get it and I later learned out of the four of us that literally taught the exact same kids, only two of us had received the bonus.

Not feeling the love I went and visited another friend of mine. She is the head of her department, teaches honors classes, sponsors clubs, and is regarded as one of the best teachers around, she had to have received it, and I thought we could bask in our greatness together, I felt I would be safe in sharing my good news with her. The problem was she didn't get it either and all I got was another cold "that's nice for you".

On my planning period I headed to the lounge, before I entered I overheard a few teachers talking about the MAP bonus, one said I can't believe this teacher got it, another said I can't believe that teacher didn't get it, when I finally decided to enter their conversation literally screeched to a halt, and after a moment they all got up to leave, on the way out one of them gave me a "that's nice for you" smile. The whole rest of the day I felt a bit like a pariah and all I had done wrong was to do my job well, something I had in common with the vast majority of teachers at Ed White high school.

So here I am the pride and excitement of receiving the MAP bonus earlier in the day quickly subsided, now it was replaced with guilt and instead of inviting kids out to celebrate our successes I was now trying to avoid my colleagues as I snuck to my car. I was afraid if I saw more of them, I would just upset them as well.

I felt bad on the lonely ride home but not because I didn't feel I deserved it, on the contrary I think I am a very good teacher and I definitely deserved it. When it comes to instruction and forming relationships with students, the two things I feel are the most important things teachers do, I think I am in the top one percent, though if I am being honest there are a few other areas that the modern teacher is responsible for that I lag behind in, no I felt bad because I thought a lot of other teachers, some who are just as good at the things I am good at and some who are good at the things I am not so good at, deserved it to.

No comments:

Post a Comment