Sunday, March 11, 2007

Power

I am going to have difficult time expressing my thoughts in this post. So if you are looking for a well-organized post, this one isn't it.
I have supported, in principle, the idea of merit pay. I believe that some teachers are more valuable to a school than others and should receive compensation for that value. Many who oppose merit pay cite poor leadership as a reason for avoiding merit pay. The fear exists that a principal, for a host of reasons, may make bad decisions about who exactly deserves the monetary value.
In my naivete, it never struck me that principals would sacrifice a deserving individual based on the pressures of a strong central office or simple dislike of an individual. Perhaps my naivete is based on the profession I have chosen. When we receive our certificates, we are held to a high standard of ethics--and we should. When we stand in front of our classes, we face students who look to us for consistency and integrity.
If I were to make an uninformed decision about a student's grade, I wouldn't last long. If I were to violate protocol in dealing with a student, I wouldn't last long. Or, if I were to treat students with a lack of dignity and respect as human beings, I wouldn't last long.
These realities make me wonder why central offices and administrations get away with these behaviors. It isn't because they are bad people, is it? They have a mom and a dad; a brother and sister; a son or a daughter. I blame power. The same people who will point to our current President and claim that he has misused his power and authority, run school districts with little oversight of their actions. Power corrupts. And when educated people, ones who are in this expected ethical profession, fail to live up to those standard, I have a hard time wanting to be a part of it.

3 Comments:

At 12:14 PM , Anonymous Lady S said...

I don't believe in merit pay.

I don't believe in merit pay, because I am a "specialist". I do not have a classroom. I do not have a set group of students (I teach all of them). I do not have a set of state standards. I do not have a "high-stakes test" to prove I am doing my job well. What proves my merit?

I don't believe in merit pay, because my principal is a pushover. When he "makes a decision" the people who complain the loudest sway him. He has no real idea which of us is a good performer and which is actually causing children to regress academically.

I don't believe in merit pay, because the principal in my student teaching experience was racist. He led a school that was about 50/50 black/white staff and students, but they all knew where they stood with him and it was all based on the color of their skin.

I don't believe in merit pay.

 
At 3:51 PM , Anonymous Laura said...

I think merit pay is dangerous. I think it would foster jealousy and a hostile work environment. Even if the principal did reward good work, others who felt they were doing "just as well" would raise a stink if they were not getting paid "just as much." I think the fallout, in addition to the sneaky leaders, makes the system dangerous.

Question: has this actually happened to you already? Is that whence the urge to quit comes?

 
At 7:41 PM , Blogger The Science Goddess said...

I work for a central office bigwig who abuses her power in the most flagrant ways; however, I'm uncomfortable painting all of our administrators and central office staff with that same brush. The person in office before her was---and still is (just in a new position at OSPI)---very much about doing what's best for kids. None of the TOSAs in my office are about power. We really do what we can to make the classroom an empowered place for teachers and an enriched space for kids. Our Union leaders are definitely on power trips of their own...and I can think of a few classroom teachers who act similarly.

I wish I knew what to do about those in education who do abuse their power. The bottom line is that they aren't in the profession for what I perceive to be the right reasons: supporting student learning. Unfortunately, there isn't anything that's going to change their belief system. The only options are to go elsewhere, or duck and cover until these people move on.

 

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