Merit Pay Analysis for Teachers

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Merit Pay Analysis for Teachers Merit pay for teachers continues to be a hot topic with valid arguments on both sides of the issue. Unfortunately it is the students and their education that continues to be in the middle of this debate. As Stonebraker argues in his book, The Joy of Economics: Making Sense out of Life, U.S. students “are being outperformed by students abroad in a wide variety of fields”. He continues by stating “Low wages create shortages of high-quality teachers, particularly in math and sciences, and the educational process suffers.” His discussion is thought provoking as it provides an out-of-the-box recommendation to improving teachers’ wages, especially in the more difficult subjects. The goal of this discussion should be what is in the best interest of helping the U.S. students compete academically in a global environment. Stonebraker’s argument that some subjects are inherently more difficult than others to teach and require knowledge and skills that require more education and work and thus should be paid at a higher level has validity. A good example of this is the teaching of an AP Physics course. AP Physics is a college level course that generally meets 4 to 5 days per week and requires a continued high level of understanding of this science as it is a changing field. On a general pay scale based on seniority, an Art teacher could potentially make the same amount as an AP Physics teacher. This is not to downgrade the Art teacher’s responsibilities or intellect, but it is valid reasoning to say that students entering the workforce with a Physics degree will most likely command more income than students entering the workforce with an Art degree. This leads to the question of whether the instructors of the more difficult courses should be compensated at a higher rate. Stonebraker’s argument doesn’t address the merit pay issue but

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