Friday, July 17, 2009

Merit Pay

As one might anticipate, what comes up in some of these planning meetings is the double whammy of pair teaching and merit pay both. How are we to double the number of math teachers along the digital math track (where pairing's the norm, staggered terms) and merit pay them so they don't run off seeking better compensation in the private sector? In a constricting economy?

Part of it's bookkeeping. You go to this like already highly enough paid Intel engineer and ask "why don't you get to pass the torch to high school aged students as a part of your job description?" and the engineer goes "I'd love to, but doesn't the education mafia have a lock on that gig?" (he sounds remarkably like Haim, no?). "What if we bring the students to you, let you use your own equipment?" (talking to Hewlett-Packard this time). HP: "You sure make it sound easy".

So pretty soon, we have pairs of teachers with higher pay, doing green field development along an essentially open terrain. We've left the analog math teachers to their tired pre-wired ways, with no energy wasted on telling them how to change (a fruitless business), not our concern. We've got our own track to worry about, our turtles, robots, Bernoulli Numbers, you name it. Students vote with their feet (or butts if riding Max).

Ah, but how does this work in more rural areas further from Aloha, Beaverton, Hillsboro? Won't we need to build spanking new facilities and bus the teachers as well as the kids? Yeah, we might have to do that in some cases, but since when were opportunities to prototype and showcase novelties a bad thing? Don't you want to see a "classroom of tomorrow" in high desert Oregon?

So what about regular math teachers on the analog track who'd like nothing more than to defect to our schools. Remember, all public schools have a charter ergo are charter schools, so the system is more seamless than you might suppose. Teachers wanting to step forward might run through as students in some scenarios, just to sample the goods, keep the learning experience more inter-generational, plus they'll get specific trainings geared for already on-the-job math teachers.

Will they accuse us of union busting, because we're bringing in all these geeks outside of "mafia" control? I doubt it. The public wants a better experience for its young and this is all about providing same. Legislators understand why a DM track is needed (or a lot of 'em do). It's win-win all around provided we don't forget what the goal is: to make the Global U a U worth attending. This brings me to the subject of Food Services (their inadequacy, thanks to a weak economics curriculum), but that's for other postings.