When Equal isn't Fair
Returning to Frederick M. Hess's Common Sense School Reform:
Our existing compensation system encourages career-squatting by veteran teachers tired of their labors, discourages young college graduates from entering the profession, frustrates those educators who pour their weekends and summers into their work, and attracts candidates who are often less motivated than those who got away (115).
With my second official year of teaching concluding in the next few weeks, I've taken the time to reflect on what I have and have not accomplished. One of the random thoughts that came through my mind as I sat in Starbucks with my wife and babyTate was, "Did I choose teaching because it was safe?"
Once we have reasonably proven our worth to a school, unless we really screw things up, it is quite likely we will have a job, if at the very least somewhere in the district, until we choose to move on or change careers. I wondered if that security prompted my ulitmate choice of profession. I had originally chosen a career in Youth Ministry, but in retrospect, the reality that a youth pastor only stays at a church for an average of 1-2 years, frightened me.
As proven by my 3,000 mile journey away from home to attend college, I can be adventurous. In terms of a career, though, I find myself less adventurous. I enjoy the security that can come with the teaching profession.
Unfortunately, as I look around even my campus, too often teachers do "career-squat." What ultimately bothers me is that while the younger teachers tend to put in extra effort, weekends, chaperoning, attending events, we don't get the same monetary compensation.
Clearly the difficulty is finding a way to better compensate. We've all gone around the horn debating how to effectively measure one teacher to the other for purposes of merit pay. And I can't say I have anything new or radically enlightening to say about it. But, there are moments when I would be willing to take the risk of some type of merit pay.
Merit pay intrigues me because I fear that one day someone might say the same about me as I say about others now. I fear the shaded corner of education where the career-squatters hide. Unhappiness lurks there. Apathy hangs in the air there. Merit pay would help to keep us away from that place we should not speak of.
Merit pay will most likely never come into existence in educational careers. Too many career-squatting teachers still voting on contracts.