Merit Pay Discussion

Shortly after I put up my previous post I came across a discussion about merit pay for teachers on CBC’s The Sunday Edition. The discussion was between Peter Cowley, who I have blogged about before, and Ben Levin, a former deputy Minister of Education in Manitoba and Ontario. Peter Cowley seemed much more reserved in this interview than in the previous one that I had heard. The fact is that both Cowley and Levin seemed to agree on all issues other than whether governments should move forward with merit pay (and their respective support for unions in general). Cowley is a proponent of it, even though he didn’t actually state any reasons why he thought it is good or works. Levin pointed out studies that have shown that merit pay does not work, as well as a few other bad things about merit pay:

  • can cause internal strife and tensions between the haves and have-nots
  • no other industries use merit pay (as I had pointed out)
  • if 25% of the workforce achieves merit pay, there will be a huge economic cost to the system
  • if less than 25% of the workface achieves merit pay, there will be disenchantment and demotivation

I hope government policy makers and stakeholders take a listen to these types of debates and discussions in order to come up with a reasonable reaction to the question of merit pay. You can follow my musings on education via Twitter @bcphysics