Stick with what works
Pay raises for experience run only for about the first 14 years of a teacher’s career, usually ending when a teacher is about 36 years old [“Solid education funding begins with a clear vision,” editorial, Dec. 7]. Those “seniority” raises amount to a little more than a cost-of-living raise.
There is plenty of research indicating that experience brings many advantages in classroom management and teaching skills that would validate the basis for longevity-pay increments.
Merit-pay raises usually do not appeal to teachers because the basis for assessing merit can be seriously flawed. Outcomes of standardized testing might be used as a basis for determining merit; using test scores, teachers working with lower-achieving students would be eliminated. Administrators have biases, such as favoring teachers they have hired. And some teachers are more self-promoting.
Teachers believe that each colleague has a distinctive role to play in creating a successful experience for their students. It is hard to see how to sort the equivalency of one contribution with other contributions. What teachers usually fear about merit pay is that it would be hard to determine a professionally acceptable basis to award that merit designation.
— Mary Johnson, Seattle