Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Merit Pay for Teachers

I found this essay on the internet and it's something to ponder on...
High-quality education is the guarantee of self-realization and prosperity in life of every single man nowadays. Therefore the educational system has now faced a great problem of the necessity of its reformation. The premise for this reformation lies in the perspective of making the educational process maximally effective. Teachers can really make a difference if their work is objectively evaluated and rewarded. Comparing two teachers with the same amount of years of experience and with a completely different level of “practical” professionalism makes it obvious that no matter how better or worse they are opposing each other, they will still get the same salary. The main problem concerning “true teaching” remains unsolved. Though the salary can be equal, the level of knowledge and teaching provided by two different teachers may be absolutely irrelevant. So the main goal of merit-pay system is to pay according to concrete results presented by each of these teachers and not by the degree and the years of experience they have.

Making a Merit Pay as a part of the educational reform will definitely contribute certain complication in the process of the functioning of the educational system. It especially concerns the process of evaluation of the eligibility for this pay.  A series of tests, observations and introspection has to be done in order to keep choosing the right “nominees”. One can have a greater amount of years of education but be less worthy of the Merit Pay due to the faulty teaching. This may cause people to lose their jobs, but at the same time it may eliminate the presence of incompetent teaching at schools. At the same time this reform brings the hope that only really pedagogically talented people will educate children and prevent people that can be successful in any other profession from becoming “faulty” and incompetent teachers. There are also a lot of “environmental” conditions that prevent children for getting the best of their education: poverty, family troubles, low motivation and so on. Nevertheless, if a teacher can give a student sufficient motivation for learning all these ”environmental” conditions may lose their power and influence over the child. The only way for the teacher to motivate students is to be motivated on his own. Merit pay provides this motivation, making the teacher realize that the efforts will not be left unnoticed.

So in spite of all the complications Merit Pay is believed to be a great solution for the contemporary educational system. It will ensure the presence of quality teaching in schools. It is a stimulus for taking a great step from reproductive teaching to the “creative approach”. “Without individual merit pay, teacher evaluations remain perfunctory best”[1]. “Teaching offers tenure, a solid middle-class income, and plenty of vacation time”[4], this becomes a sort of protection for those “average” teachers that do not search for more and will not work more than they are required. What merit-pay system does is it drops the “average” teaching off the schools and therefore it makes a tremendous step towards improving the academic achievements of the students. “But simply raising teacher pay without fundamental reform won't give us better teachers-it will just give us higher pay for good and bad teachers alike”[3].
Merit pay has a lot to do with the motivation of teachers. High motivation afterwards leads to a high level of professional performance. The situation in the educational sphere is very instable due to the constant decline of the general student achievement.  No one states that the salaried around $42,000 that the teachers get are unbelievably small. There is even more to add on the grounds of the U.S. Department of Education statistics: “teacher salaries have increased steadily over the past 20 years, while student achievement has steadily declined”[3].

The merit-pay system becomes a “tool” to encourage teachers no only to “attend” work in order to get their stable salaries, but to come up with something new and improve their general level of performance greatly in order to be rewarded. The president of America Federation of Teachers (AFT) Sandra Feldman stated: "Salaries must at least become competitive to attract and keep quality teachers", and she was right because as long as the worker feels unremunerated the quality of his performance will never come to its maximum potential. It is similar to any other job: good initiative and an outstanding work always result respectively in the salary. Merit Pay should definitely become a part of the educational reform because due to all of the listed positive moments above it will certainly start a new “educational millennium” where teachers do really make a difference for kids.
  1.  “Good teachers matter, so pay the best more”/by Steven Malanga/ August 07, 2001.
  2.  “Merit Pay: Another Tale” /by Myron Lieberman/ 2001.
  3.  Teachers Deserve Merit Pay, Not Special Interest Pay
  4.  Should teachers be paid based on merit? YES

Monday, 17 January 2011


Modern, sophisticated, upper class Malays generally do not watch malay dramas on TV. However, this is just an opinion formed based on experiences and observations with time. It could be true in most cases and not necessarily acceptable in others.

Not belonging to any of the categories I mentioned above, and on the pretext of wanting to stay in touch with the development of the malay community in general, I make it a point to watch these dramas from time to time. Many friends have given me the disgusted look when they found out I actually watched the malay dramas but who cares...I'm not ashamed of being labelled conservative or "makcik-like". My point is, these dramas are portrayal of my malay society - the very colourful malays!

No doubt, not every drama is recommended for viewing, is entertaining or impressive. Nevertheless, some have really touched me right at the soul of my heart. There's a sense of satisfaction which lingers on in me after watching it. It's not exaggerating to say that some of the good ones have taught me a few valuable lessons and helped me see things from different perspectives. There are those which have lifted my spirit and made me realise how lucky I am in every possible way today.

Let us Not make what Tun Mahathir had said once, "Melayu Mudah Lupa", a persisting fact. In one way or another, we have to be proud of our own root like Kunta Kinte did of his. Our dramas may have flaws in the choice of characters or weak plots but the take off point remains with the fact that those people responsible in presenting them are giving us a scenario of the everyday life, whims and fancies of the malay community...MY malay community.

I am "Melayu tak mudah lupa"...

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Positive thinking

It's always easier to blame others when something goes awry. It's the best defense mode for those who are not courageous enough to admit their mistakes. Lately, this finger-pointing phenomenon gets stirred up aggressively when various groups of people from various organisations begin to blame social websites, especially Facebook (FB) as one of the causes of social ills, broken marriages and failed relationships. Prior to FB, hand phones shared the same fate of being blamed. This is simply saying the stone is at fault when we tripped and fall at a particular spot.

I enjoy "face-booking" and I owned two hand phones. To date, the former has opened up an interestingly new chapter in my life and the latter get me connected anytime, anywhere with whoever I want.

Via FB, I have had two reunions with two different group of school friends. Not to mention the countless old friends whom I have lost contact with for ages and students whom I have taught since 1981...they are all in touch with me now, thanks to FB. It has become a platform to reach out to those whom we have temporarily lost with time.

Lets reduce our focus on the negativity of everyone and everything around us...think positively, be positive, stay positive...