Does the public like merit pay for teachers?
It seems clear that many Florida teachers dislike the idea of performance pay – just look at the outcry over STAR and MAP – but the public might have a different view. A recent national survey found 45 percent of the public thinks a teacher's salary should depend in part on students' academic progress, while 31 percent didn't think so and 24 percent didn't have an opinion. (The survey didn't say how academic progress would be measured, which of course is part of the rub. Throw the word "FCAT" into the question, and support would probably tumble into the negatives.)
The survey, co-directed by researchers at Harvard, Brown University and the University of Chicago, also found teachers and the general public aren't marching in lockstep when it comes to No Child Left Behind. Some 42 percent of current and former public school employees surveyed support the renewal of No Child with little or no changes, while 57 percent of the public does. Public support is even higher, at 71 percent, if the words "federal legislation" are substituted for the words "No Child Left Behind." Could it be that the public has a dimmer view of No Child because journalists so often describe it as the centerpiece of President Bush's education agenda, as opposed to a law that passed Congress in 2002 with widespread, bipartisan support?
To see the survey results and an accompanying article in Education Next magazine, click here.
- Ron Matus, state education reporter