Joe Scarborough Calls Union Busting UnAmerican

By Justin Gardner | Related entries in Media, Unions, Video, Wisconsin

Obviously this doesn’t mean that unions haven’t overreached or don’t have flaws. They have and they do…just like businesses and governments have flaws and put their employee in harm’s way, discriminate against them, etc.

Because let’s remember that unions didn’t spring up because they weren’t needed. And let’s not pretend that employers won’t exploit their workers if they can. A business is nothing more than an amoral system designed to make a profit. Some companies are awesome and put their employees (and customers) above some “business” decisions that would fatten the bottom line, but they’re not exactly common. So workers need an equally amoral system that’s focused on getting everything they can too.

Also…we’re talking about taking away the ability for people to collectively bargain. Walker won’t concede, and yet the unions in Wisconsin have already said they would cut back on salaries, benefits, etc. Where’s the compromise?

I’m glad Joe has said this publicly and I wish more Republicans would say the same thing instead of being so knee-jerk anti-Union.


This entry was posted on Tuesday, March 1st, 2011 and is filed under Media, Unions, Video, Wisconsin. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

29 Responses to “Joe Scarborough Calls Union Busting UnAmerican”

  1. Alistair Says:

    Justin I predict that this will be an issue in local and state elections this year and next’s Presidential Election. Any elected officle’s that goes with Scott Walker’s plan whether it’s in Wisconsin or any other state will lose the election. And right now he’s paying for it with a series of new polls showing more support for Unions.

    http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2011-02-22-poll-public-unions-wisconsin_N.htm

    http://people-press.org/report/709/

  2. kranky kritter Says:

    Whether Scarborough coming out loudly on this is a help or a hindrance, I can’t say.

    But I do think that the predominant reaction is that Walker is using the demonstrable need for substantial changes in 3 or 4 areas as an opportunity to go much further along strongly ideological lines. I don’t like that idea, nor do I like the extreme curtailing of collective bargaining.

    However, I have yet to see any description of the details of exactly what the unions have said they are willing to concede at this point. For example, the public consensus seems to be that gov’t workers should contribute to healthcare costs in a way that is commensurate with what the rest of us pay. For example, my wife and I pay 20-25% of our premium, and that seems to be pretty common, give or take 5 percent or so.

    So if the unions have conceded to baby steps like paying 1.5% or 5%, then obviously retaining collective bargaining rights would give them power to prevent additional changes over the next few years to bring their bennies in line with what other folks get. If unions really ARE making concessions that bring their healthcare contributions in line with what the rest of us have come to expect, then Walker has no case.

    But if the concessions being trumpeted now leave the unions with a deal that’s still much better than most of the rest of us have come to expect, then there’s still work to do, right?

  3. Buwahaha Says:

    Let’s not forget that the unions are amoral as well, seeking to amass as much money as they can at the expense of their fiscal hosts. And in this case, that host is the government (which is the people of Wisconsin).

    This isn’t a good-guy, bad-guy thing. These are two market forces playing against each other.

  4. Blakenator Says:

    Buwahaha, try reading the post before offering comments. I continue to be amazed at the argument that the union folks are portrayed as greedy because, in this case, the benefits they get have not fallen as precipitously as those of the public sector but the banksters and CEO’s need to be paid outrageously because “you can’t get good help if you are not willing to pay for it.”

  5. Thomas Says:

    I don’t by Scarborough’s commentary for shit. It’s just counter programming.

  6. Mike A. Says:

    This should be a discussion about balance. Industry without unions cannot be wholly trusted to make decisions that are win-win with their workers. Unions without restraints have the same issue. One counter balances the power of the other. The discussion should not revolve around “busting” the unions, but should be how to temper their power while allowing them to have a voice for their workers in the industry they serve.

    Not all unions, or industries, are inherently bad. Some of them just lose their way.

  7. gerryf Says:

    kranky kritter Says:

    …I have yet to see any description of the details of exactly what the unions have said they are willing to concede at this point. For example, the public consensus seems to be that gov’t workers should contribute to healthcare costs in a way that is commensurate with what the rest of us pay. For example, my wife and I pay 20-25% of our premium, and that seems to be pretty common, give or take 5 percent or so.

    Governor Walker’s proposal was that nearly all state, local and school employees to pay half the costs of their pensions and at least 12.6 percent of their health care premiums.

    The unions agreed to this.

    So if the unions have conceded to baby steps like paying 1.5% or 5%, then obviously retaining collective bargaining rights would give them power to prevent additional changes over the next few years to bring their bennies in line with what other folks get. If unions really ARE making concessions that bring their healthcare contributions in line with what the rest of us have come to expect, then Walker has no case.

    So, does Walker have a case or doesn’t he?

    But if the concessions being trumpeted now leave the unions with a deal that’s still much better than most of the rest of us have come to expect, then there’s still work to do, right?

    I love this argument—it’s a one-way argument applied to the lower and middle class called a race to the bottom.

    The GOP has been ginning up this drive to gut the unions with nothing more than base arguments that appeal to people’s jealousy. That guy has it better than you so that guy should suffer! And it works!

    So now we should all demand that this guy do as much as you because you’ve got a bad deal (by you, I mean generic “you” not you specifically KK).

    It doesn’t really matter that we’re talking false equivalencies. Despite what the right would have you believe, unions don’t make more than their counterparts in the private sectory (queue MW who will trot out a Heritage Foundation study cooked up to compares a union’s total contribution up against some poor schlub the dug up who is only make X who of course represents all of humanity that is not in a union). Some do, some don’t.

    Still, funny how all the talk about fairness goes away when we talk about taxes. Then there are all kinds of mathematical gymnastics about how the rich shouldn’t pay.

    A great story: Warren Buffett spoke in 2007 how in 2006 he paid 17.7 percent on his income tax, while his secretary paid 30 percent.

    Join me KK in calling for a 30 percent tax on the rich and then I will take that argument seriously.

  8. Jim S Says:

    The argument about comparing professionals like teachers and principals, who are required to have at least a bachelor’s degree and a master’s if they want to keep improving their career as well as other forms of continuing education to a generic “us” who do not necessarily need that level of education and training is the old cliche of apples and oranges. I have yet to see a comparison of the salaries and benefits of similar professionals. I’ve also seen a lot of comments from Walker supporters about how teachers just work for nine months of the year and other myths.

  9. kranky kritter Says:

    Did the unions agree to pay half the cost of their pensions out of their existing wages? I’ve heard more than one union official say that the money which pays for the pensions IS the union’s money. Can you say with certainty there’s no legerdemain in the claim that the unions are going to contribute half towards their pension.

    If they’ve agreed to 12.6 on healthcare, they’re still contributing substantially less than what most of the rest of us expect.

    None of my statement above should be construed as “defending” Walker. I’ve previously acknowledged that I believe that Walker is using this crisis as an opportunity to curb unions far more than current circumstances require. I won’t be distracted into defending him. I simply want the best possible set of directly relevant facts to emerge: something better than broad statements which sound good but which may conceal important detail. All I did was ask. Thanks for the extra info.

    The argument about comparing professionals like teachers and principals, who are required to have at least a bachelor’s degree and a master’s if they want to keep improving their career as well as other forms of continuing education to a generic “us” who do not necessarily need that level of education and training is the old cliche of apples and oranges.

    Very long sentence, but a very good point. Both sides in this debate are prone to crafting comparisons that are very favorable to them, while ignoring important differences and exceptions.

    We ought not to compare teachers to ditchdiggers. I am also not sure how much is gained by comparing them to doctors and lawyers.

    Furthers, teachers DO get demonstrably more time off than average. That’s relevant. They do tend not to be drawn from the ranks of the highest academic achievers. And, they do in many respects appear to be OVER-credentialed, not under-credentialed, if you ask me. In the name of making sure our children our handled only by folks who are “qualified,” a labyrinthine architecture has been crafted which bars from entry most folks who will not go to the end of a long line and jump through every dictated hoop. This architecture, along with generous tenure and job protections, makes change extremely difficult.

  10. gerryf Says:

    No, I cannot say with certainty where the half of pension is coming from–I cna say with certainty that when the union offered it, Walker himself did not question the method of their contribution or suggest it was anything other than a legitimate offer.

    What he said was that he wanted that and to strip the union of its collective bargaining rights–which stands in opposition to the idea this is only a fiscal matter.

    Furthermore, your point that the unions aren’t giving enough at 12.5 percent? Pointless. That is what Walker ASKED for. So now you’re saying it’s not enough and the union should say, “Well gee Gov Walker, you want 12.5 percent? We will give you 25 percent because that is what Kranky Kritter and his wife are paying.”

    Furthermore, your whole argument fails to recognize what went before. For example, State tells the unions we will give you a 7 percent raise and you worry about your health and pention. Union comes back and says we will take 3 percent and you contriute 2 percent to pension and healthcare.

    That’s called bargaining. They gave away higher wages for healthcare and pension. It’s a contract. Pretty sure the GOP thinks honoring contracts is important (unless it is with unions, I guess).

    I notice you didn’t take me up on the offer to support a fair tax distribution…

  11. Mike A. Says:

    gerryf,

    You cannot ask for a fair tax distribution, that would be class warfare with the rich! Of course continuing to demand the middle class suffer the burdens of balancing the budget, while taxes are cut at higher income levels, well that’s just good business.

    The inequities between union and non-union folk do exist in some segments, but I would argue they are not universal. Leveling these inequities may provide satisfaction in non-union minds, but without addressing fair taxation across all income levels it is only a ruse.

  12. Agnostick Says:

    kranky kritter writes:

    “Furthers, teachers DO get demonstrably more time off than average. That’s relevant. They do tend not to be drawn from the ranks of the highest academic achievers. And, they do in many respects appear to be OVER-credentialed, not under-credentialed, if you ask me. In the name of making sure our children our handled only by folks who are “qualified,” a labyrinthine architecture has been crafted which bars from entry most folks who will not go to the end of a long line and jump through every dictated hoop. This architecture, along with generous tenure and job protections, makes change extremely difficult.”

    I’d like to hear more about this, please… with a nod towards the concept of “proof” as you central theme.

    [psst... married to a teacher here... ;) ]

  13. gerryf Says:

    they get more time off than bus drivers, but less than congressmen….

  14. kranky kritter Says:

    I notice you didn’t take me up on the offer to support a fair tax distribution…

    Right. I do try not to expand complicated topics into whole other vast regions of debate. This thread isn’t, IMO, about tax policy. You wanna make the connections, be my guest. Not interested in joining you on that ride.

  15. kranky kritter Says:

    It’s common knowledge that teachers get a minimum of 4 to 6 weeks off in the summer, plus xmas, feb, and april vacations, and all federal holidays. You want me to prove that’s more time off than usual?

    And you want me to prove that credentialing for various positions within academics is labyrinthine?

    No thanks. I’m quite familiar with academic credentialing for teachers, education regulations for a whole host of thing, and with the time off teachers receive. And I’m willing to simply believe what I can see with my own eyes.

    As to the claim that teachers are not among the highest academic achiuevers compared to other professions, I am willing to cheerfully admit that I am repeating something I have heard others claim repeatedly over the years. However, I did spend a semester in a graduate training program for teachers, and I found most of them to be emotionally earnest but academically mediocre. I found the same thing when I took the teaching licensure test in my state, lots of people struggling mightily to find their way over a fairly low bar. Granted, I have no way of knowing how many of those folks will actually become teachers.

    If I went over the top on that point, I apologize. I don’t want to sound like a garden variety know-nothing throwing teachers under the bus. I would however, like to see the honest results of a poll of a teachers as to their opinions about the percent of their fellow teachers that they think are substandard for one reason or another, and how much better they think their school could be if the small handful of poor performers could be replaced. I’ve heard multiple accounts on this issue from principals, and I believe them.

  16. kranky kritter Says:

    @ Mike A: Your point about balance is a dead-center bullseye. I second your sentiment.

  17. Tillyosu Says:

    Ahh so much to take issue with in this thread. But gerryf said something that caught my eye. You want a fair tax system? One that doesn’t require mathematical gymnastics? 30% sounds about right to you? I wholeheartedly agree.

    I think that if you make 20% of the national income, you should pay 20% of the nation’s taxes. Agreed? Likewise, if you make .0000005% of the national income, you should pay .0000005% of the nation’s taxes. No credits, no deductions, no loopholes. Seems fair enough, right?

    So to do this, let’s just have everyone in the country pay 30% of their income in taxes. EVERYONE. In fact, I’ll do you one better. We’ll just have everyone pay 30% of all income above the poverty line in taxes (look at me getting all progressive on you).

    This system is simple, doesn’t require a lot of mathematical gymnastics, and above all…fair. So are you on board?

  18. Mike A. Says:

    Two children through the public school system. I’ve seen predominantly average teachers, a few horrific-should-not-be-interfacing-with-children teachers, and very very very few exceptional, highly motivated, inspiring teachers. The problem is, these few don’t get the rewards they rightly deserve (and by this I mean pay scales in the mid to upper 100′s). The horrific teachers don’t get the punishment they deserve, and the average are not motivated to perform better. I have had my children in 4 different public school systems across the country and have seen this to be the case in 3 of the 4. When it comes to the teacher’s union,I’m for a restructuring, not a busting, it.

    My beliefs about “busting”. The lazy approach is to tear something down and start over. But without a fundamental understanding of the root cause of the issue, you are bound to repeat it. The hard work is to get in there, understand the problems, and have the patience and fortitude to fix it. Unfortunately politicians, business leaders and voters have neither of these attributes to do this.

  19. gerryf Says:

    KK.

    ROFLMA

    In a post responding to mine, he says “I do try not to expand complicated topics into whole other vast regions of debate. This thread isn’t, IMO, about tax policy. You wanna make the connections, be my guest. Not interested in joining you on that ride.”

    And then IMMEDIATELY in the next post, you expand the thread about union busting and the tangent on time off and compensation to one of teacher performance and culling the poor teachers from the pool when that topic had not even been discussed in this thread.

    What you really mean to say is that you don’t want to discuss topics that you don’t want to discuss.

    Tillyous,

    I would certainly be willing to discuss it.

  20. kranky kritter Says:

    Yup, you’re right Gerry, I try and I fail. Cheerfully acknowledged.

    here’s what you said:

    Join me KK in calling for a 30 percent tax on the rich and then I will take that argument seriously.

    Let me be clearer this time. I see absolutely no reason to try and pass your litmus test in order for you to “take my argument seriously.” It has merit or it doesn’t, regardless of my opinions on your preferred tax policy.

    If you think that the argument I mention lacks merit, then be man enough to say so and explain why it doesn’t. Don’t try to suck me into some sort of challenge where I am supposed to prove my bonafides by agreeing to saok the rich.

    It’s preposterous. I was trying to be nice. I

    I think your challenge utterly lacks merit in the context of any real relationship to what unions deserve. Better? Perhaps taxes could be higher on rich folks, but that’s no defense, in my opinion, for public servants getting a demonstrably better deal on benefits and job security than most of the rest of the folks that pay their salaries.

    If you want, I will start an open thread on tax policy over at Cranky Critter, if you will agree to participate in the discussion. You might have to contend with Tully and act like an adult over there, though. Can you handle it?

  21. Agnostick Says:

    gerryf writes:

    And then IMMEDIATELY in the next post, you expand the thread about union busting and the tangent on time off and compensation to one of teacher performance and culling the poor teachers from the pool when that topic had not even been discussed in this thread.

    To be fair, KK did that at my behest. I challenged him.

    And KK responded, in part…

    And you want me to prove that credentialing for various positions within academics is labyrinthine?

    Compared to what? Medicine? Law? Accounting? All three of those fields require intense amounts of study,,, a licensing exam… followed by regular maintenance of that license through continuing education.

    Teachers? In many states, the same requirements.

    I’m getting a whiff of a double standard here. If a mid-level executive at a major corporation goes to night school and gets their MBA, it’s “career advancement”; if a public school teacher takes classes during the evening, or during summer, and gets an advanced degree, we file it under “labyrinthine credentialing.”

    Really?

    I suppose the system for advancement in higher education might be more intricate, what with “publish or perish” and all that, but in my wife’s school district it’s essentially reduced to a grid of cells, based on the level of your education, and how many years you’ve been with the district. As far as seniority goes, I think the maximum there is 11 or 12 years–so once you max out on seniority, if you want more money, you have to get that master’s degree, PhD, EdD. Early in her career, my wife achieved national certification–among other things, this allows her to start teaching in the classroom immediately, if we move to another state. She won’t have to sit out on the sidelines while she waits for her state teaching license.

    As to merit-based pay: I’d like to see something like that–but how do you do it? One of the challenges that I see to that, is how do you fairly rate the quality of a teacher’s output, when the quality of the raw materials they begin with–students–is so wide and varied? Maybe I’m oversimplifying, but it’s like giving a furniture maker 20 piles of wood–each pile a different grade of quality–and then expecting the builder to turn out 20 grade-AAA top-of-the-line cabinets. Fair?

    After all these years of watching my wife bust her ass, bringing papers home to grade (an old cliche, but it happens!), writing lesson plans… it’s hard not to be a defensive when the old “teachers-are-paid-too-much-for-laying-out-by-the-pool-all-summer” dogs start yowling.

    Agnostick
    [email protected]

  22. Agnostick Says:

    Aww crap, sorry about the messed-up code. For some reason, I’m not seeing the “preview” I used to see, just below the Captcha box. Anyone know why that might be?

    MacBook Pro
    Mac OS X v. 10.5.8
    Firefox 3.6.13

  23. kranky kritter Says:

    I was talking to a buddy about merit pay for teachers the other day. He’s a proponent, and he’s a corporate guy.

    I am VERY agnostic on trying to apply merit pay to teaching. I don’t think there are comparably good objective metrics as the ones others have, like say, sales, or mortality rate, or patients seen per hour, or billable hours. I know a LOT about assessment, and I am leery of presuming that teachers are directly responsible for say, their students’ scores on a standardized test. And if you go the other way, you’re left giving principals and administrators a lot of subjective power.

    My friend has also been a corporate HR guy, so he knows just like I do how hard it can be to implement and motivate via incentive schemes down at the rank-and-file level. The people picking the winners and losers don’t like it. The people getting different compensation become resentful. And there is plenty of research that such incentive-based plans don’t improve performance. I think much more good could be done by giving principals and schools more freedom to get rid of teachers they think aren’t cutting it than by giving big rewards to a small set of teachers selected as standouts.

    I’m getting a whiff of a double standard here. If a mid-level executive at a major corporation goes to night school and gets their MBA, it’s “career advancement”; if a public school teacher takes classes during the evening, or during summer, and gets an advanced degree, we file it under “labyrinthine credentialing.”

    Maybe that’s how you would file it. It’s not how I file it. I openly question all types of career advancement equally. I am not sure why anyone sane would argue against the notion that some or even many forms of so-called “career advancement” are credentialing that serves as gatekeeping more than legitimate acquisition of new skill.

    That’s the relevant question: has the person who received the credential actually made themselves legitimately more valuable? Let some get more training and then prove they’ve become more valuable, THEN get a raise.

    I was a graduate assistant for 4 semesters in a program that served many teachers seeking advanced degrees largely for the sake of punching their ticket to get an automatic raise. That’s how it works in my state. Get the degree, receive a raise. I saw a lot of ticket punchers and a lot of bad attitudes. So you can’t fool me by whining about a double standard.

    It is in many respects difficult (at least in my state) to become a teacher unless you follow the specific path of getting an undergrad degree and then an M Ed, then student teach. In my state there are few legitimate paths for career changers to become teachers unless they are willing to take a detour and acquire all the credentials the state says you need. No detours. No alternates. Little or credit for relevant for expertise not validated by an academic degree. For example, I spent 15 years writing and editing secondary math textbooks. My understanding of content, scope, sequence of math is comprehensive. Could I get a license to teach high school math without getting an undergraduate degree in math? Of course not. But I can teach English, because I have a degree, even though I am less familiar and practiced with the content nowadays.

    After all these years of watching my wife bust her ass, bringing papers home to grade (an old cliche, but it happens!), writing lesson plans… it’s hard not to be a defensive when the old “teachers-are-paid-too-much-for-laying-out-by-the-pool-all-summer” dogs start yowling.

    Well maybe if you didn’t translate what I said into your much uglier version, that would be a start.

    • Do you think that teachers get demonstrably more time off or not? Who else gets 7, 8, 9 weeks of vacation? If you think that “it all balances out,” why do you think that? Because it’s comfortable and to believe otherwise would offend your wife?

    • Do you think that teachers are the only ones that bring work home? I brought work home all the time as an editor, and I was on salary. And on deadline.

    • What does your wife say about the percent of her colleagues that actually put in long workdays outside the framework of the 7 to 7.5 hour schoolday (6.5 h + another 20-30 minutes before and after?) She’s never complained about teachers that are out the door at the bell most days? She’s never said that there are some old teachers who just go through the motions doing the same thing over and over?

    What troubles me is how hard some folks make it to talk honestly about legitimate issues. We have lots of good hard-working teachers in our country. Must that fact be thrown in the face of anyone who talks about how to do better? And thrown as a conversation ender?

    I met a young teacher at a seminar who had found a way to get quick certification as a special ed teacher in Rhode Island. He bragged about how much free time he had because he had a mandated caseload of 10 students. And he talked about how there was very little he could do for some of his students. He wasn’t even a bad guy. But he loved the rules that gave him an easy time of it. I’m talking about a real person here.

    And there’s a shortage of special ed teachers everywhere. School systems are doing their best to pour more and more resources into special ed, and the ranks of those who qualify due to some deficiency keeps swelling. And who has the balls to talk about whether or not this represents wise consumption of limited resources? No one.

  24. Tillyosu Says:

    @gerryf:

    You know, of course, that what I’m describing is a flat tax right?

  25. gerryf Says:

    Agnostick,

    You may have asked KK to amplify the tangent that he had already went off on, but he went off on that tangent before you asked him to (in his march 2 post) — this despite his contention that he does not expand on complicated topics. You don’t need to defend him.

    KK,

    You don’t need to pass any litmus test for me to take you seriously. You need to be serious. Mostly, you pretend to be a the serious, non-partisan seeker of balance, ala Joe Klein, when you’re really just a clever right wing mouth piece.

    Tillyosu,

    Yes, I do. I said I would be willing to discuss it. As simple as a flat tax sounds, it’s usually not (so simple).

    When the Heritage Foundation or Steve Forbes and other super wealthy talk about the flat tax, they often define income in such a way that certain income is exempt. For example, Forbes was all over a flat tax that exempted income earned investments from his inherited wealth.

    So, if that is the tax you are pushing, then I would be opposed. If you are talking about a true, fair flat tax then I am open to discuss it. One of the reasons the flat tax has never passed muster is the proponants like Forbes are usually trying to game the system so they benefit the most.

  26. Mike A. Says:

    KK said “My friend has also been a corporate HR guy, so he knows just like I do how hard it can be to implement and motivate via incentive schemes down at the rank-and-file level. The people picking the winners and losers don’t like it. The people getting different compensation become resentful.”

    Agreed 100%, but not implementing merit-based pay is disasterous. This is one of those “yes it’s hard, but that’s what good people get paid to do” items. It is hard, but I am sure it can be done with some level of effectiveness. The issues above are universal to any merit-based system.

    As to the research that merit based pay is not effective, I would like to see how this research was performed and in what environment. I have a hard time believing that merit based pay would fail, considering how effective it’s been in nearly every industry and market in the US.

  27. theWord Says:

    I am guessing no one would be against paying people that do a good job. The devil as always is in the details. I was sent this article and as someone who has been managed and been a manager and worked in quality control and worked with the largest HR firm in the world, there is a lot here that sure rings true.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/02/opinion/02culbert.html?_r=1

    It doesn’t mean it can’t be done but it requires thought, planning and adjustment and I don’t know that we have a country capable of that anymore.

  28. Tillyosu Says:

    @gerryf:

    Well, obviously there is a good reason that investment income is taxed differently. And it’s not because we revere the rich and hate the poor. It’s just because a) investments have been taxed already (in the form of an inheritance tax, for Mr. Forbes, say [which, incidentally, would have been the second time that money was taxed]) and b) we as a society want to encourage investment.

    Now I know every liberal bone in your body wants to punish Mr. Forbes so he’s got it just as rough as the rest of us schleps. But think about this – would you want me to come along and take away whatever you’ve set aside for your kids, just because it isn’t fair to their peers whose parents didn’t have the same foresight/discipline as you?

    In any event, if you want to tax investment income at the same rate, it’s only fair that you abolish the inheritance tax, or allow all investments to be deducted from income. But I can’t see you agreeing to that…

  29. kranky kritter Says:

    This is one of those “yes it’s hard, but that’s what good people get paid to do” items. It is hard, but I am sure it can be done with some level of effectiveness. The issues above are universal to any merit-based system.

    This is one of those “yes if you think your great idea applies to a fundamentally different environment very unlike the ones you are familiar with in business, thenyou dig into the details and then explain precisely how it shall be effectively applied” items.

    As to the research that merit based pay is not effective, I would like to see how this research was performed and in what environment. I have a hard time believing that merit based pay would fail, considering how effective it’s been in nearly every industry and market in the US.

    Right. At and above the mangerial level, especially when objective criteria can be brought to bear. Below the managerial level, not so much. And especially not when worker peoduct is difficult to measure. And especially not when the rank-and-file workers are required to work closely and cooperatively as a team to complete a finished product or reach a shared goal.

    And I am sure that last bit raises hackles, because as a general description, it still fits things like making software or selling products. Sure, it does. But those are domains where you still end up spending most of your time working individually with code or with clients. In other words, like baseball, where there is a team relationship, but the majority of the game still involves that one against one battle of pitcher versus batter.

    Teaching seldom drills down to that 1 vs 1 battle. Most of the time, it’s the teacher in a cooperative relationship with 20-something students in a collective effort. Further, the standards and regulations generally apply in such a way that the most resources are generally plowed into the least students. IEPs and Special ed. Please not I am not saying that’s the wrong approach. Instead, I am asking whether that particular dynamic exists in a merit-based rewards system.

    Here’s the thing (and I’ll probably say this poorly, so try no to clobber me). In many respects,. teaching a class of students is inherently a very socialistic endeavor. And there aren’t many good ways around that. Nature of the beast. If you ask a person to work in good faith in a fundamentally socialistic endeavor, compensation can’t be applied in a capitalistic fashion.

    Now if as a teacher, I or someone else was working with students one at a time, and I was able to simply cast aside students with deficits, or charge way more money to teach them, THEN merit-based pay could probably work fine.

    I ask folks to give that serious thought, instead of simply defaulting to the insistence that we must find a way to make merit-based pay work for teachers. At this point, it’s IMO no better than a largely untested and unproven hypothesis(that it will work in public schools). If its advocates are fair-minded enough to admit this, then we can explore ways to try it. I remain convinced that there is way more worth in finding ways to filter outthe poorer teachers than in rewarding the good ones. Especially because for very good teachers, motivation is internal, because teaching is a calling for them.

    External reward systems work best when the rewards are high enough to strongly motivate people in tasks that most folks would not consider a calling, but are willing to work hard and excel at for the sake of earning the means to support other ends which ARE internally rewarding.

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