I am floating on a cloud today. Why? Well, for about as long as I can remember, I’ve thought unions that negotiate contracts that call for pay to be based on seniority as opposed to merit are single-handedly dragging down the quality of education in our country. Whether we’re talking about the local elementary school, community college or four-year public university, where there are unions the contracts read the same: pay is calculated on the basis of seniority, and merit increases are given out equally to all. Almost equally, more often than not the full-time faculty get the merit pay, and the part-time faculty get the short end of the stick with a nice red bow wrapped around it.
Today, President Obama is being quoted in more news outlets than I can possible keep up with saying that he wants to see merit pay used to (hold on to your bunions) compensate teaching excellence, and to see systems put in place to get rid of poor teachers more quickly. Can you imagine? Make no mistake, the NEA and AFT will fight hard against any move away from seniority toward merit-based pay. If President Obama can actually pull this one off, however, the change will have a profound impact on k-12 education and, I would imagine, eventually work its way up into higher education, as well.