I have never been able to understand why this situation exists with our state’s funding. It’s probably also why our state is near the bottom in state funding for education in general. The state legislators get down to the bottom of the list for funding and education gets what’s left over, or so it seems.
I spoke of pay as a teacher in my last column and how we teachers all just slop at the public trough when it comes to our pay. I never once received any kind of a bonus in 30 years of teaching. That can be looked at in a couple of ways. Maybe I didn’t excel enough to be worthy of a bonus or maybe I didn’t suck up to the boss enough to qualify either. Neither one is the case, in my case. There wasn’t any money for any bonus regardless of the reason.
With George W. Bush and company in power, No Child Left Behind took over the educational field like a plague on the land. Not only was George W. born with a silver spoon in his mouth so he couldn’t speak, but he also didn’t understand that we teachers don’t pry Johnny’s head open and pour a certain amount of knowledge in the opening and call him educated. With all the differences in each of our students, teachers must be able to adjust their teachings to accommodate each of those differences as much as they can to actually facilitate education in every one of our students. That is no small feat but it is done lovingly every school day in every school in our nation. George W. and company didn’t have a clue when it came to all of that. It is hoped that the new administration will have more compassion when it comes to the differences of all the students and will thus allow our nation’s teachers the ability to actually teach their students.
There have been ideas to improve teacher performance such as merit pay, which has been proposed from time to time. Merit pay would be fine if there were a delineated list of things the teacher was to have done throughout the school year and if accomplished the teacher would then receive the merit pay, like a bonus. The problem with this is two fold. One problem is how many of these merit pay allowances are going to be available? There’s the funding factor again. Then too, how do we know that this merit pay won’t become a political football within the school and only the principal’s pets get the merit pay? Merit pay has some good points but so far, the educational community hasn’t been able to get around the negative ones.
Larry Wilson is a 50-year resident of Sparks and a retired elementary school teacher. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.