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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

June 11, 2014 at 7:04 AM

Teacher merit isn’t solely determined by seniority

Donna Grethen / Op Art

The assumption that with experience comes increased quality of teaching, is inaccurate or, at minimum, an over-generalization [“How gaps in teacher quality widen the gaps in student achievement,” Education Lab, June 6].

As there are veteran teachers of high and low quality, there are first- and second-year teachers with equal if not greater merit. Often with youth comes innovative approaches, enthusiasm and a love for the teaching profession that has not been dampened by bureaucratic suffocation — a determination to “do as we have always done,” an attitude that teaching is a job or worse, that the non-future of at-risk students is inevitable.

To attempt a cure via “a weighted pay scale,” as suggested by the authors, could lead to unintended consequences, as you have now just replaced a desire to accept the challenge of teaching in the tough school with “I will benefit by having a greater salary base before retirement.”

Rather, we should embrace the positive attributes mentioned above. As such, I would like to propose that within our struggling schools, we explore the merit-based pay scale. (After all, Washington is on the path to defining merit with our exploration into more relevant teacher-evaluation models).

We need the best and brightest for our toughest schools, not merely the most senior.

Steve Hirsch, Seattle

Comments | More in Education | Topics: education, Education Lab, pay scale

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