The problems of merit pay for teachers

Sixty years ago Edward 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.

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 factories.

Help fund independent Catholic journalism.
Donate now.

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 Edward Demming.

Support independent reporting on important issues.

 One family graphic_2016_250x103.jpg

Show comments

NCR Comment code: (Comments can be found below)

Before you can post a comment, you must verify your email address at
Comments from unverified email addresses will be deleted.

  • Be respectful. Do not attack the writer. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the original idea will be deleted. NCR reserves the right to close comment threads when discussions are no longer productive.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report abuse" button. Once a comment has been flagged, an NCR staff member will investigate.

For more detailed guidelines, visit our User Guidelines page.

For help on how to post a comment, visit our reference page.

Commenting is available during business hours, Central time, USA. Commenting is not available in the evenings, over weekends and on holidays. More details are available here. Comments are open on NCR's Facebook page.