The current merit pay for teachers debate is far from being resolved, with valid arguments on both sides of the issue.
Formerly introduced as a way to encourage teachers to perform better and thus providing better learning experiences for students, the merit pay for teachers debate has had a long history of whether there are real benefits for both students and teachers.
On one hand, performance-related pay is being seriously considered in some US districts as a way of improving educational system performance. United Federation of Teacher has expressed some support for the idea as it is believe to promote healthy competition amongst teachers to want to improve their skills.
However, oppositions of this debate including the National Education Association believe that this system creates a spirit of competition which does not fit with the collegial character observed in the most effective schools. Unsurprisingly, the teachers’ unions are overwhelmingly opposed to the idea because by definition performance-related pay establishes an inequitable working environment for teachers. Another argument against merit pay for teachers is that it is difficult to measure the value of a good teacher and even harder to define what characteristics distinguish a good teacher from a bad teacher.
There are also some practical arguments that can be considered cons of merit pay for teachers. Critics cite the fact that it would be a bureaucratic nightmare to design and administer a merit pay program at the federal level. The deliberations on such a program alone would detract from the essential goal of improving the educational system for students. Another argument against merit pay for teachers is that it will compromise the inevitability of the spirit of good will and cooperation in the field.
They cite case studies where the implementation of a performance-related pay system was counterproductive and led to unpleasant competition between teachers. It discourages team work between teachers who used to cooperate on solutions that improved educational outcomes for students.
After reviewing both sides, the merit pay for teachers debate has posed a greater question as to how schools will continue to evaluate their teachers on an ongoing basis and ensure that the standards of teaching continue to grow without encouraging a spirit of competition. Whether or not merit pay is the answer that will allow the evaluation of teachers is still debatable. Perhaps the better solution to educational problems is to pay every teacher more and maintain an egalitarian system, while finding other methods to encourage growth of teaching standards in schools.