Teach hard for the money

Merit-based pay at schools would boost student outcomes.

President Barack ObamaâÄôs Race to the Top Fund provides âÄúcompetitive grants to encourage and reward states that are creating the conditions for education innovation and reform.âÄù Its goals? âÄúBoosting student achievement, closing achievement gaps, improving graduation rates, and ensuring that students are prepared for success in college and careers.âÄù Sounds much better than No Child Left Behind, right? Despite the flowery language, some of ObamaâÄôs proposed methods for fostering this environment are causing a stir among high school educators and their unions. Obama supports merit-based pay, based on the loose term âÄúteacher performance.âÄù Of course, merit pay only works alongside a measurable standard of âÄúgood teaching,âÄù a big concern for educators living in the shadow of No Child Left Behind, afraid that any evaluation method will fall short of accurately gauging performance. Obama has already voiced his opposition to arbitrary tests of the past, and his program provides grants for the schools that improve, leaving it to the educators themselves to innovate and excel. Educators, including those at the college level, should not fear merit pay. If the University of Minnesota is to ensure âÄúacademic excellence,âÄù administrators need bring some practical strategies to the table. Merit pay promises to generate result-based competition among instructors and provides an incentive for teachers to work harder in order to obtain a salary bonus. Better teaching leads to better student outcomes. Though some may imply otherwise of the University enterprise, education remains our primary focus.