Parents Picking Teachers' Pay Isn't as Satisfying as It Sounds

classIf you got a letter home next week from your kid's school, asking you to rate their teacher, how do you think you'd vote? Would it change if you knew that the school would use your answer when it came time to cut the teacher's paycheck? A movement in Idaho to let parents have a role in determining how educators are paid sounds like a great idea in theory.

Pay-for-performance is starting to take off all over the nation, with educators being expected to accept that their bonuses will be based on kids' test scores. Getting parents to weigh in too sounds like a great idea; we want a say! So why am I hoping the idea doesn't catch on in my neighborhood?


My kid is only in first grade, but I spent 12 years in public schools myself. There are some crappy teachers out there. But there are also some really poor excuses for parents. Frankly, I'm not so crazy about having the future of my kid's education in the hands of that ditzy mom who can't be bothered to attend a parent/teacher conference ... ever!

In Idaho, a teacher's raise could soon be rated on how many parents show up for conferences or how many parents return paperwork sent home. To me, that's just bizarre. It's not her (or his) fault if some parents don't take an involved role in their kids' education. As far as I can tell, going to a house to kidnap a parent, then carting them into a school building is still a felony!

But I'm not crazy about parents rating a teacher in other ways either. A rating sheet sent home only reflects a parent's feelings, not what really goes on in a classroom.

I should say we've been very lucky with the teachers assigned to my daughter thus far. But there are times when I've had frustrations. Teacher's email address isn't working. I didn't get a reply to my letter requesting busing information. I'm aware these people are working with 17 kids in a classroom. They can't be spot on all the time! None of us can, so I'm pretty happy.

If push came to shove, I wouldn't complain about them. Certainly not if it meant that it would affect someone's salary. If I'm not in the classroom observing, I don't think I can truly handle that kind of responsibility.

But some parents are more than happy to go on the attack because they don't get what they want: flawless teachers who have personal time for every student and their parents. Now add in the parents who are always convinced their kid is right 100 percent of the time (we all know at least one). Plus the parents who start out every year convinced teachers have it easy because they have summers off. Oh, and we might as well throw in the parents who heard from a friend of a friend that this teacher did X, but have no real idea.

It these parents all get a say, what does that do to a teacher? More importantly, what does it do to a classroom? Suddenly the teacher has to decide whether or not she disciplines the class brat because she has to worry that his parents are determining her paycheck! And she's spending more time on the phone trying to coerce parents to show up than actually teaching your kid 3 + 3.

Would you want to be able to decide how much your kid's teacher gets paid?


Image via frankjuarez/Flickr

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