Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A Modest Proposal For Merit Pay

Let's all stipulate that all adults want students to succeed.  Let's further stipulate that all students want to succeed.  Some students may not have discovered that fact; some students may not know how to succeed, but all want to.

For purposes of argument, let's all agree that money does motivate all people to succeed.  I don't agree, but the Governor takes it as a matter of faith.

Let's also stipulate that one should apply stimulus as close as possible to the thing one wants to stimulate.  That's why those who want people to type faster pay more to the keyboardist who hits the most correct keystrokes. They don't pay the bonus to the floor manager who walks around making sure no one spills coffee on the keyboard.

I'm assuming that principle explains why the Governor has not proposed merit pay for administrators and counselors.  Teachers are closer to students.  He may wish to gain revenue from reality TV show featuring principals wrestling, but I digress

There is, however, one group closer to students than teachers: the students themselves.  Why are they left to their own, apparently inadequate, intrinsic motivations?

I, therefore, modestly propose that all students who score in the upper level of the Dakota STEP or its Common Core replacement be paid $300.  Further, all juniors who score one (1) point above the national average on the ACT or SAT be given an additional $500. I would not object if the Governor, who believes STEM is the ultimate end of education, added $200 dollars to those who achieve the overall national average but score two (2) points above average math and science.

I'm not sure why anyone would object to this proposal.  It uses the Governor's logic about money being the best motivator.  It applies the stimulus to the people with the most at stake.  It will probably affect more than 20% of the students, so those with egalitarian impulses should love it as well.

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