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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

March 23, 2009 at 3:42 PM

Performance pay for teachers

A basic way to reward success

Danny Westneat’s column is an irresponsible way of looking at the reforms the Washington Legislature is considering for teacher pay [“Is Wall Street best model for fixing our schools,” Local News, March 22]. The column is sensationalism at its worst — it twists the scandalous, sexy news from Wall Street to torpedo good basic schools legislation.

No one is asking the teachers to adopt a Wall Street model for merit pay. What happened on Wall Street is an extreme example of capitalism out of control. But that is not what happens every day, and has worked very well in private industry for many years — and it will continue to work well.

Engineers, accountants, doctors, nurses and even journalists are constantly evaluated for performance by their peers and their superiors. Business works as well as it does because the best are allowed to move up and nonperformers are shown the door.

If teachers want to be paid and respected like engineers and accountants, then they will need to accept being evaluated like them. This has nothing to do with crazy bonuses and the odd antics of Wall Street. It’s just a basic system to reward the top performers and make our schools so much stronger in the process.

— Isabel D’Ambrosia, Seattle

Pay isn’t everything

Performance pay for teachers is a bad idea.

The best teachers do not do it for the pay. They do it because they are driven to instill in young minds the joy of learning what makes the world tick.

The gratification of succeeding at this is their performance pay. At any rate, who is to decide who the best teachers are?

— G. R. Upchurch, Woodinville

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