A Compensation Philosophy that is Coming Soon to Doctors

From the Boston Herald via Radly Balko:

Grinchlike union bosses are blocking at least 200 of Boston's best teachers from pocketing bonuses for their classroom heroics in a puzzling move that gets a failing grade from education experts.

The Boston Teachers Union staunchly opposes a performance bonus plan for top teachers - launched at the John D. O'Bryant School in 2008 and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates and Exxon Mobil foundations - insisting the dough be divvied up among all of a school's teachers, good and bad.


  1. David Zetland:

    Fu3k them! This shit is pissing me off. Damn. Even the communists were better at education! Arg!

    Let's REALLY do something for the kids -- fire their crappy teachers and reward the good ones.

  2. DrTorch:

    This is GREAT!

    Isn't this exactly the lesson that Rand was predicting: that while you try to grab a piece of the other guy's yacht, someone below you is trying to grab a piece of your ice box.

    And inevitably there will always be more people below than above.

    Let these teachers learn the hard way about what their unions have been doing for decades. Maybe they'll even pass on that lesson to their students.

  3. Fred from Canuckistan . . .:

    Well if it is good enough for the Teacher's Union, it should be good enough for the Player's Unions in the NBA, NFL, NHL, Baseball, Soccer etc .

    A teacher's goose is an athlete's gander, no ?

  4. Methinks:

    I realize the point of the post isn't sympathy for teachers, but I have none. Unions work only for union bosses. They create a hideous situation for anyone who is not a layabout. Teachers wanted a union, now they have one. Enjoy. It's our kids who get screwed because they are forced to go to schools run by half-wits.

  5. MJ:

    Socialism in one sector...

  6. Matt:


    You think the people who run our schools these days are half wits? I think you give them too much credit.

    They all belong in the FBI's witless protection program.

  7. Rick C:

    Of course the union opposes this. The leadership is smart enough to see this for what it is: the camel's nose, or the thin end of the wedge.

  8. Kishore Jethanandani:

    Baffles me that these good-for-nothing jerks actually get away with all this nonsense. Nothing like this is tolerated in any other walk of American life.

  9. Dale:

    Bonuses work in the privet sector because there is a profit motive, if you start handing out bonuses to the undeserving at the expense of the deserving you are hurting your business and if you keep it up you will go out of business. However, in the public sector there is no profit motive, and who gets the bonuses becomes pure politics, or to put it another way, WHO YOUR FRIENDS ARE. This has been tried before in the public sector and it gets nasty.

    Believe it or not I’m just about as conservative as you can get but some things are just not a good idea.

    Reality bites…

  10. bearpaw:

    OF COURSE the union opposes bonuses for the best teachers - the purpose of unions is to remove competence from the equation.

  11. Todd M.:

    What makes you think doctors aren't already paid this way? As far as the patient is concerned, an office visit costs the same, whether you see a nurse practicioner, good doctor, or crappy doctor. The good doctor's time is rationed by the length of the wait you must endure to see him or her.

  12. Dr. T:

    My brother-in-law has taught in a NY state public school for over thirty years, and he has been the local NEA president. The NEA's stance is that teachers pay should be based solely on degrees earned and years on the job. (Despite the fact that numerous studies have shown that getting a masters degree or a PhD doesn't improve teaching and that experience beyond ~7 years doesn't improve teaching.) The NEA believes that a crappy teacher with 20 years of crappy teaching should be paid ~50% more than a superb teacher with 2 years of excellent teaching. The NEA abhors merit pay, incentive pay, pay-for-performance, pay based on student improvement, etc. The NEA claims that biased principals will play favorites if given any leeway. It claims that subjective standards are unfair because one teacher may get a better group of students than another. (But, wouldn't chance even things out over time?)

    The bottom line is that the NEA fights for the rights to be a mediocre teacher and not get fired and not get less pay. Any blatherings about trying to improve education and help our children are lies.

  13. palm beach sugar daddy ken doll:

    saying that one teacher, or doctor - or worse, one **group** of teachers/docs are better than other groups - is just like racism or eugenics, and don't try to confuse us with your whines about "provable performance methods" or any of the rest. saying hateful things like "not everybody is 100% equal in all things" is what the NAZIS did, man. fighting for performance bonuses is no different than erecting death camps. is that what you nazis want?!? more death camps??!?

    the unions would never screw over their fellow american citizens just to advance their own selfish agenda, any more than big business or the banks would! they are men with HONOR, men bound by MORAL CODES! (lips move rapidly as PBSDKD re-reads what he just wrote.) hmmm. ok, on second thought, we *could* all be screwed.

  14. Bob Smith:

    I find this talk of incentive pay amusing. Why are we talking about increasing already bloated school personnel budgets? Teachers are overpaid as it is (their whining about the disaster that will befall your children if you don't agree to keep ramping up their compensation far faster than inflation notwithstanding), most of them should be paid less rather than paying good teachers more. More money is not what our school systems need.

  15. sabril:

    I agree with Dale. Merit bonuses for public school teachers are a bad idea. The people who will be deciding who gets a performance bonus will be the same type of people who awarded the Nobel Peace Prize to Barack Obama and Al Gore.

  16. Brad K.:

    I think a case can be made, Fred from Canuckistan, that stimulus money has saved several professional sports jobs.

    That is, Obama should be setting pay scales for the top 175 paid professional athletes.

    And union leaders, from teachers unions to teamsters and autoworkers. Tag the top 175 of them, too. And movie and music company executives, too.

  17. rxc:

    I think this method should be applied to the entire chattering and enternatinment class. They should all be paid the same, whether the work for the NYT or the Podunk Journal, whether they star in Titanic or are unemployed waiters, whether they hit 70 homers each year for the Yankees or 0.239 in the minor leagues, whether they sing in a stadium at half time of the Super Bowl or in a lounge in Iowa.

    All contribute in ways that are subjective to judge, and they should be compensated equally, depending on how long they have been around and the number of advanced degrees they have received in their field.

    It would be interesting.....

  18. dorainseattle:

    Merit Pay
    This is an issue that is closely associated with charter schools and is a reiteration of the No Child Left Behind Act.

    Basically, it requires that teachers pay be based on how well their students perform on standardized tests. For our students, it could be the WASL or a similar test. With the No Child Left Behind Act, teachers and staff were pressured to teach much of the class work to the standardized tests. With so much focus on the test, many other parts of knowledge building, creativity and understanding of subjects and their synthesis with other knowledge had to take a back seat. For many students, teaching to a test meant that they were not able to reach their full potential which would have been far beyond the level of the tests.

    No one wins in this situation.

    Part of the fallout also is that if a teacher's pay is based on how well their students test, many teachers will want to teach in a school where they know that the students will perform better. Those schools are, for the most part, not the minority schools.

    Some students do not perform well on standardized tests for many different reasons and yet a teacher's pay can be tied to that student's performance. High stakes testing also puts pressure and stress on the students who become burdened with the thought that they need to perform well on one test. The test becomes a focus with little opportunity to explore and have fun learning, creating and synthesizing new thoughts and ideas.

    If we are to have merit pay in Boston, it needs to be based on many factors and not just what is indicated on one standardized test.

  19. Uno Hu:

    It is my understanding that the extra money offered for the outstanding teachers is coming from a private source, i.e., the Gates Foundation. How can the union prevent that private source from simply mailing a check to the home of the teachers they wish to reward, or prevent the teachers from quietly accepting and cashing the check? So get real. The union can only block the Gates Foundation's action if the Gates Foundation ALLOWS them to.

  20. Dale:

    After thinking over my comment about bonuses not being a good idea in the public sector I feel that it’s incumbent on me to offer a solution. What I think needs to be done is turn over, real control, of our nation’s schools to the local communities. Parents need to be able to effect real change at the local level. This would include the ability to control the curriculum, choose the text books, hire and fire, and the authority to stand up to the unions. This would have the extra benefit of making it far more difficult for the unions to buy off the politicians at the State and Federal level. They, the unions, would instead be forced to involve themselves at the local level, interacting directly with the school boards. This might be a good for everyone. You could still do bonuses, and yes it would still be a bad idea, but at least it would be being done at the local level, and the parents would have some control over it. After all, involved parents know who the good teachers are.

  21. Ted Rado:

    I am puzzled by the opposition to merit raises for the best teachers. I am a retired engineer. Throughout my career, the best engineers got the raises, promotions, better assignments, and were the last to lose their jobs. It was a real incentive system, and worked fine.

    Yes, there was favoritism, poor judgement in giving raises and promotions, but on the whole, it worked well. The people giving out the raises, etc. had a motive for picking the best people: incompetent subordinates would ultimately cost the boss his job, as the department's performance would suffer.

    Poor performers in a merit based system are encouraged to improve or find another job. The really poor ones I knew gave up engineering and found other work.

    Can you imagine wanting to drive over a bridge designed by the engineer with the most seniority rather than by the most competent one?