Thursday, August 20, 2009

Where Merit Pay Leads…

Published on February 16, 2008
   According to the NY Times (Jan. 21, 2008), New York City’s Department of Education will use student scores on standardized tests to evaluate the performance of 2,500 teachers at 140 of the city’s public schools. Although the United Federation of Teachers (NYC’s teachers’ union) knows about the "experiment", it doesn’t know which schools are involved, and neither do the teachers who–together with their students–will be used as guinea pigs.

Let’s face it, this "experiment" means teachers will be judged on how well they teach test-taking skills, not on their ability to encourage creativity and foster authentic learning. Ominously, Deputy Superintendent Chris Cerf has been placed in charge of the new "experiment". Cerf previously was an executive at the notorious for-profit Edison Schools (where OUSD’s state administrator, Vincent Matthews, spent several years).

UFT President Randi Weingarten expresses "grave reservations" about this project. But Weingarten opened the door last fall, when she enthusiastically agreed to cooperate with an Eli Broad-funded merit pay scheme that bases part of teacher compensation on standardized test scores.  It’s very late, but perhaps Weingarten will learn a lesson: this is where merit pay is all about. Eli Broad and his associates promote merit pay as a way to further their all-too-familiar campaign to routinize education into "standards-based" scripted prep for high stakes standardized tests.

Jack Gerson
The New York Times