Teachers in Denver who are on strike will once again bring to the surface the issue of merit pay (“Denver Teachers to Strike Over Merit-Pay System,” Education Week, Feb. 6). Fifteen years ago, Denver instituted ProComp as a way of rewarding teachers for their ability to raise student achievement and for teaching at schools where they are needed the most. But it has not worked out as hoped for.
I’ve written often before why so much of any teacher’s effectiveness is the direct result of the students inherited. Therefore, I’d like to take a closer look at ProComp’s success in inducing teachers to accept assignments in hard-to-staff schools. Paying teachers more to do so is often called combat pay for good reason. Students in these schools come from chaotic backgrounds that make teaching subject matter secondary to performing triage on a daily basis.
There will always be some teachers who will opt to do so. But combat pay has not been popular. Supporters will argue that if combat pay were increased enough more teachers would join. I seriously doubt it. Teachers want to teach their subject. They’re not mercenaries looking to increase their salary. That’s why turnover in such schools post high turnover rates. No amount of money is going to significantly change that.
(To post a comment, click on the title of this blog.)