By Ryan Gorham, JMI Intern & FSU Senior, Political Science/Economics
At face value, paying teachers based on what they accomplish in the classroom seems to be a logical method for allocating tax-funds to pay educators. The productivity of a teacher can most easily be measured by the direct impact they have upon their pupils’ education. Even though in a given year classroom dynamics may change, leaving the teacher with a difficult challenge, the statistics will show through in the aggregate. If a teacher is successful at getting through to his/her students, the students’ performance will reflect this.That said, legislation tends to reflect the politics of the policy bodies through which it passes. Once politics is introduced, there is competition from all angles, working to shape the legislation to meet their desires. Bills rarely reflect the original intent of the author when they are finally introduced to committees and floor discussion. Thus there is no such thing as perfect legislation, as politics is an art of compromise between opposing ideals.However, I believe that moving teachers’ compensation towards a merit pay system is a step in the right direction. Providing bonuses to teachers that are successful in the classroom is a positive incentive; though the incentive structures could be flawed, they are also structures that have been used before.There will always be problems that need to be addressed pertaining to legislation, as John Adams notes: “While all other sciences have advanced, that of government is at a standstill – little better understood, little better practiced now than three or four thousand years ago.”Government has never been perfect–no use pretending it will change now. Steps in the right direction should be viewed in a positive light, as they are rare in politics.