Will They Vote To Let Performance Determine Their Paychecks?

Will They Vote To Let Performance Determine Their Paychecks?

Newark public school teachers were scheduled to vote on the pay-for-performance earlier this week before it was postponed indefinitely by Hurricane Sandy.  Some of them are undoubtedly nervous about what its implementation will mean for their job security.  A lot of people become teachers because they can get tenured.  Who wouldn’t want that?  It would be great to have a job that you could not be fired from, no matter how well you perform!  No stress, no accountability, summers off.

Not a bad deal.

In the private sector, employees typically have to go through an annual performance review process.  Depending on the size of the company, it can be very structured or very informal.  I have worked at multinational corporations as well as tech start-ups, so I know firsthand how the processes vary.

But a nutshell, it usually goes something like this…

Employees are required to create their goals and objectives for a given performance year.  They also need to map out their targeted project deliverables against these objectives so that management can effectively evaluate their work at the end of the year. In a lot of companies, employees are rated against their peers, and the perceived value of their deliverables plays a significant part in the overall performance evaluation and incentive bonus for which they may be eligible.

Many times, employees who have been with a company for years begin to stagnate.  They are resistant to cultural changes and new initiatives to grow and expand their roles within their respective organizations.  They do not value innovation and they fear that any changes will threaten their comfort zone.  In short, they just do not fit in with the future direction of the company.

A performance evaluation system separates employees who are furthering the objectives of the company from those who are content to maintain the status quo.  This system is a necessary tool required by senior management to reward those employees who are committed to putting corporate goals into effect.

I am sure there are other teachers in Newark that most likely embrace the proposal because they are confident in their abilities and they have the scores to back their accomplishments in the classroom.  They see a unique opportunity to be compensated for continuing to drive their students towards success.  They are the ones who embrace change, the ones who welcome accountability and the ones who strive to reach the students and propel them to achieve.

I think that the biggest complaint of teachers, and their main source of concern with this kind of a proposal, comes down to the fact that they will not always get model students in their classrooms.  And unlike the private sector, they can’t fire these students.  But it is important to realize that even in Corporate America, sometimes employees have to work with difficult groups of people, groups that they are dependent upon in order to have a successful and productive year.  So while it is not exactly like comparing apples to apples, there are loose similarities between professions.

To me, voting for this proposal is a no-brainer.  Employ and reward the teachers who are actually making a difference in the lives of their students.  The unions back it, and getting their concurrence on changes is usually the biggest hurdle.  Take that away, and the educators have the power to decide.

If this proposal passes, teachers would all have the power to justify their employment, and yes, they would also need to prove themselves as worthy educators.  But this is how the rest of the world operates in business.  Why should teachers be exempted from this very basic concept of rewarding proven performance?

I hope that the teachers remember to keep in mind the most important players when casting their votes – the students, the future leaders of our country.  If the best teachers are employed, the school system will improve.  And if given the opportunity to excel, the best and the brightest will shine.


105 thoughts on “Will They Vote To Let Performance Determine Their Paychecks?

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