Kevin Drum links to an article by Lou Gerstner on the merits of merit pay for teachers.
I don’t entirely buy Drum’s contention that principals don’t know enough about teachers to adequately evaluate them. Or rather, I’m convinced that, under the right circumstances (in particular a manageable number of teachers), a good principal has a very good idea of what her teachers are doing.
Of course this assumes good principals and small schools, but there are reasons enough, merit pay aside, to insist on both of these.
Even an imperfect system would be far better than the current single-salary schedule. And while we reward the best, we need to empower principals to lead, making sure they have the proper authority to hire and fire teachers. And as far as competition goes, since when is a little healthy effort to be the best at improving reading or math scores such a bad thing?
I frankly doubt that we’ll see a useful proposal from Arnold, given California’s budget constraints and his apparent intention to hold down education spending. But it could lead to a useful discussion.