Sr. Mary Ann McGivern at the National Catholic Reporter writes:
Today Chicago teachers are walking the picket line
and teachers around the country are with them in spirit, wanting the
authority to develop appropriate curriculum and rejecting merit pay.
Politicians and school boards tend to disregard teachers. State
boards impose tests, standards, and, in recent years, the very page
every teacher must be on in every classroom. Some say what schools need
is a business model. They should be operated efficiently, like
Most troubling, with merit pay, they pit teachers against one
another. There’s no benefit in mutual problem-solving, shared strategies
or cooperation. It’s a temptation to cheat. A teacher who can dump
problem students elsewhere and teach to the test will reap rewards. But
the children will lose.
School reformers should read W. Edwards Deming.
Sixty years ago W. Edwards Deming carried to Japan a new idea for
manufacturing where quality circles and teamwork changed global
industry. One of Deming’s ideas was that merit pay undermined efficiency
on the factory floor.
Deming's biography includes his key principles and a list of Seven Deadly Diseases for organizations. Among his foundational concepts are placing teamwork within a system and slowing down production to ensure quality as top priorities. He specifically rejects merit pay and ranking employees. Such practices may temporarily elevate a few employees (or schools), he said, but the system itself suffers in the long run. His ideas changed the world economy, yet now are ignored by "businessmen, " such as Bill Gates, Sam Walton, and Eli Broad, seeking to "reform" education...unless, of course, they really mean to run public education out of business.