I commend The Inquirer for welcoming the New Jersey Education Association's proposal for streamlining tenure ("Firing bad teachers," Monday). Unlike Gov. Christie, who scorns anything from the NJEA, The Inquirer can recognize a competent, reasonable proposal when it sees one. Christie should take help and good ideas from wherever he can, instead of scorning them as different - he seems incapable of understanding the difference between governing and bullying.
Unfortunately, my compliment ends there, as the Editorial Board blunders by then calling for merit pay. As a recent, comprehensive study by Vanderbilt University concluded, merit pay is ineffective. This shouldn't be surprising because merit pay works on a theory of competition. Yet, not only are teachers not motivated by competition, but competition is counterproductive.
Good teaching and, by extension, good schools are products of cooperation. Vanderbilt's study found that teachers worked just as hard without the merit pay. Further, the means of judging "effective" teachers under these schemes falls on standardized test scores that are susceptible to manipulation, errors in grading, and fluctuations due to students' random guessing. Why use such a clumsy instrument to assess such a delicate art? It seems the Editorial Board is either profoundly ignorant of research or profoundly stubborn.
Kevin W. Parker