Guadalupe Sandoval, a junior at Serra High School in San Diego, CA has had a lot of time to think about teachers and the impact they have on her and other students. Her parents have chosen to send her to a school outside of her neighborhood based on teacher quality (or lack there of). Her hour and a half bus commute each day has inspired a wonderful essay on teacher pay and performance:
Since I am in 11th grade, I have had a lot of good teachers and bad teachers. In my school, students talk about teachers and who is a good teacher and who is not a good teacher. Believe me, teaching for a long time does not mean that a teacher is good. It just means the teacher has been a teacher for a long time. The same names come up for bad teachers and good teachers every year no matter which students are talking about them.
When the school district had to lay off teachers it didn’t matter if a teacher was not a good teacher. It only mattered if the teacher had been a teacher for a long time. That teacher was not going to lose his or her job. Thinking about that made me decide that merit pay is a good idea. In other jobs, more pay and promotions go to the workers that do the best job. If a worker does not do a good job then it’s, “You’re fired.” I have never seen a teacher fired. Students are just stuck with a terrible teacher.