Merit Pay for Alberta Teachers

I can’t tell you how much it pains me to write this post.  When I voted PC in the last election I did so with a sigh of relief that this would never be a conversation here in Alberta.  I feel duped, mislead, and frankly betrayed.  I can tell you this much, lesson learned…..

Merit Pay is, in my opinion, the beginning of the end of quality education in Alberta.

I tweeted earlier today that I was part of a conversation where I heard a teacher say, “Why would I now share my good lesson plans and ideas with anyone else.  They might take them, use them, their students will do better then mine, and they’ll get the bonus pay and I won’t!”

How desperately sad is that?

Teaching and education are held up through the backbone of collaboration.  Merit pay will begin to institute a dark system of competition.  Where teachers once got together to plan lessons and unit plans, they will now focus on how to increase test scores and hiding their brilliant ideas from others.  Being creative and trying to garner student engagement?  Forget it.  Teaching to the test will rule the day.

There is talk that teachers who go above and beyond in terms of extra curricular activities would be rewarded.  Goodbye my own darling children, it was nice knowing you.  Now mommy has to coach seven sports, run a drama production, and a leadership team to make sure she gets that bonus!  And I guess I should probably start looking for divorce lawyers now, since my husband and I are both teachers and if one of us gets merit pay and the other doesn’t there might be a bit of tension in our household.

Alberta Minister of Education, Jeff Johnson says that he is merely inviting conversation about merit pay right now.  He doesn’t really want to talk about it until collective agreements are signed.  He says his motive for this is that he doesn’t want to bog down negotiations.

Sorry Mr. Minister, but I call foul (and a couple of other words I swore I would never use in my blog).

I think the real reason you want to wait until collective agreements are signed is that you are hoping they are all 3, 4, or 5 year deals so then you can railroad us with Merit Pay legislation and it can no longer be a negotiation point within collective agreements.

We aren’t stupid.  We see what you’re up to.  And it won’t work.

Colleagues that I have had severe disagreements with over the years, people I regularly argue with on twitter because we have completely different teaching styles…..we have all come together on this one.  Merit pay won’t work.  And we won’t sit back quietly while you try to convince the public it’s a good idea.

I’m currently teaching an advertising class to my Grade 8s.  Todays discussion was about propaganda and how to “spin” something to make it sound good.  You can sell it to the public as a way to “reward” good teachers and thereby punish the bad ones….but truth is that every teacher in this province deserves merit pay.

Don’t reward me over another colleague in my school and make them hate me for it.

Don’t make hard working teachers in my school tell their own kids that they can’t take them to hockey because they have to coach basketball.

Don’t force me into the heartbreaking decision to resign from a profession I dearly love because it becomes about the money and not about my students.

Merit pay works great in the private sector.  It’s a sector that was designed in a competitive atmosphere and money as the carrot works great.  Teaching is about collaboration, encouraging kids to learn together and experience the reward of that learning together.  Don’t turn this into something it isn’t.

Look at what has happened in the US.  Look at the studies they have compiled to show that is DOESN’T WORK!

Go back to school Mr. Minister….for those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.



About Cherra-Lynne Olthof

I've been a middle school teacher for my entire career (which began in 2001). Like my students, I too am a life long learner. My goals include helping my students to achieve their goals, support them in their learning, and to encourage them to think "beyond the grade".
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One Response to Merit Pay for Alberta Teachers

  1. I’ll just say I’m sorry….from a Florida teacher, heart of Merit Pay Land. It’s sad and wrong if it’s based so much on test scores from that one day. There is so much that goes into teaching and learning…and not all learning gains can be accurately measured from a multiple choice test. I enjoy being a teacher so much…I just stay focused on my students. 🙂 Best wishes.

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