Monday, November 05, 2007

Merit Pay/Pay for Test Scores-The Business Model

One of the programs constantly cited by legislators supporting pay for test scores is the business model. It is not uncommon to hear that "lawyers and doctors" are paid on merit. I'm continually amused by the doctor/ lawyer argument. These are people in private practice who pick their own clients. School teachers teach everyone who walks through the door-rich, poor, black, white, Hispanic, Native American, Asian, special needs...everyone. Plus, have you ever heard of these professionals not getting paid on whether they cure someone or lose a case? This comparison is laughable and equates to nothing more than a sound-bite.

Now more on the business model. The business model of pay is being used by politicians, the business community, and other so-called teacher organizations to justify paying only a few teachers and ignoring the underfunding of our schools--which in Oklahoma equates to $844M. (I'll be writing about that in a future post.)

According to the Department of Labor, only 7% of employees are in some type of merit pay program. I don't know for sure, but I would venture a guess that many are commissioned salespeople.

That means that 93% of the American workforce is not in a merit pay system. If this is such a great plan, why hasn't it been more widely accepted by our economic system?

In research done by Jeffery Pfeffer and printed in the Harvard Business Review entitled "Six Dangerous Myths about Pay, advocates need to pay attention to myth 5 and 6. Myth 5 is "Individual incentive pay improves performance." However, "Individual incentive pay, in reality, undermines performance--of both the individual and the organization. Many studies strongly suggest that this form of reward undermines teamwork, encourages a short-term-focus, and leads people to believe that pay is not related to performance at all but to having the "right" relationships and an ingratiating personality."

Undermines teamwork. Short term focus? It sounds like claims made by the OEA.

Myth 6 is that "People work for money". While the reality is, "People do work for money--but they work even more for meaning in their lives. In fact, they work to have fun. Companies that ignore this fact are essentially bribing their employees and will pay the price in a lack of loyalty and commitment."

This is just what our schools need. A business model that will produce teachers with only loyalty to money instead of kids, schools and communities.

No comments: