New Florida Law Ties Teachers Pay To Student Performance

Back when I was in sales, I did lead development. That meant I had to locate a company that needed our consulting services, had the money in the budget to pay for it and actually wanted to meet with a salesperson. I got paid for setting up the appointments, and got a bonus if the salesperson closed the deal.

One of the first questions before taking a business development job always was, are my incentives based on things outside my control? I learned early on not to even consider working in a place where my commission was contingent on whether or not the salesperson closed the deal. "If you developed a good lead, the deal should close," one sales manager argued with me. Uh uh. Sales people screw up the close all the time, thus blowing up my commission. So that was a major issue.

And that's also why paying teachers on the basis of how the students perform is one of the stupidest, most insidious ideas the policy morons have ever concocted. Rather than address the very real issues of poverty and learning disabilities, they'd rather play with gimmicks like this "Student Success Act":

Reporting from Jacksonville, Fla.— Florida Gov. Rick Scott has signed a far-reaching teacher merit-pay bill that will overhaul how teachers across the state will be evaluated and paid.

The law creates an evaluation system that relies heavily on student test score data to judge teacher quality. For new teachers, it also creates a performance-based pay system and ends tenure-like job protections.

Florida's merit-pay push is part of a national effort to improve education by tying teachers' pay to their overall effectiveness.

"We are absolutely changing this country," Scott said during the signing ceremony Thursday at a charter school in Jacksonville that aims to boost academic performance among low-income students. He was flanked by students as he put his name on the controversial measure.

Advocates say the law will help Florida schools identify top teachers, reward them financially and assign them to work with their neediest students.

But many teachers along with their statewide union, the Florida Education Assn., are opposed. They say the law will be expensive, will rely on an unproven system and won't fairly evaluate teacher performance. The union has threatened to sue, arguing the plan tramples on teachers' rights to collective bargaining on salaries and work conditions, among other issues.

It was quickly praised as "breakthrough legislation" and a "model of bold reform" by the foundations run by education reformer Michelle Rhee and former Gov. Jeb Bush, respectively.

But the American Federation of Teachers, a national teachers union, said it "took a wrecking ball to the dreams" of Florida's public school students.

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