Re "Do the Math: Money Plus Merit Equals Better Teachers," Commentary, Jan. 7: While Louis Gerstner identifies several of the overwhelming problems facing our education system, his principal answer is to provide merit pay. Alternatively he refers to this system as "modern and "innovative." It is neither. It is instead part of a simple-minded attempt to introduce the practices of large industry into the public sector. He has a solution in search of a problem.
Professionals in the public sector are less motivated than those in the private sector by competitive incentives. Solid base pay, a good retirement system and support in doing their work are stronger incentives. Gerstner should examine what really motivates teachers -- who invariably work beyond the requirements of their contracts -- rather than dictate an inappropriate incentive system.
The problems are real: We need to recruit, retain and motivate teachers. Gerstner's proposal will only make this more difficult, by rewarding a few teachers while demoralizing the rest at a time when we need a massive influx of new teachers.
Re "Teachers Unions Blast Governor's Merit Pay Plan," Jan. 10: To those whining union members and officials who ask how teachers can be fairly evaluated, the answer is, the same way that corporate America evaluates its professionals: Their supervisors do it. Administrators are going to have to get out into the classrooms more and evaluate what is being done.
The socialistic notion that all teachers should get the same pay raise is passe. Private industry doesn't give its professionals all the same pay raise, so why should education? Here's the bottom-line test: Think back to the worst teacher you ever had. Now, think about the best teacher you ever had. Do you think they deserve the same raise? I didn't think so.
S. Craig Holland
How about merit pay for legislators based on number of bills passed? All bills must include: All children come to school with full stomachs, all children have affordable healthcare, all children have early childhood education, all children come from a two-parent household with one who stays at home, all children learn at the same rate, all schools have the exact same supplies and all teachers are trained in the exact same way.
Then and only then, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, is merit pay an option.