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

elementary school, education, grades


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GlowW... GlowWorm889

Awesome. Can teachers also fine the parents who don't show up for conferences, don't take the time to make sure their kid is doing their homework or studying for tests, wait until the last minute to return phone calls, blame the teacher for everything, wait until the last day of school to demand an explanation for why their kid is failing, send their kid to school sick, and ignore calls home when we say their child is misbehaving in the classroom? Why not? Sounds fair to me.

Janet Robinson

only if the teacher gets to rate the parents and it affects their salary too, teachers get blamed for everything , most time the kids have had no disipline, not breakfast, nor sleep, no homework, no desire to learn anything,  a fresh mouth that spills out vile remarks mistreat other children and the teachers and the teacher is allowed to do nothing, and cannot give the kids their actual grades, they stay their just hoping to help one or two and make a difference in the lives of our future world leaders and bums alike!

Littl... LittleFrogsMA

This current wave of 'education reform' including 'pay for performance' is completely based upon ideology and not actual data.    Zero evidence to support pay for performance improving instruction.  Frankly, I don't see how it could when there is a limited pool of funds for teachers; not all teachers can get the top salary so some will start to lose money which means there will be backbiting and nastiness in the workroom instead of cooperation. 



hotic... hoticedcoffee

Yes, I would like to have this kind of input, and I'll think it's utter BS that teacher's are not subject to performance evaluations based on their ability to teach children and communicate with parents regarding their child.  That's their teacher's job, and the ones that can't do it, should be fired.

A good teacher won't need to worry about being penalized for a couple of low marks from parents - Administrators know who the good teachers are, and complaints will be the exception, not the rule. The crappy teachers who have nothing but negative feedback?  Buh-bye.

The education system in this country is a flat-out mess, and one of the reasons is the difficulty in getting crappy teachers out of the classroom.  Any steps in that direction has my support.

nonmember avatar K

Bottom line pp, are you a teacher? Are you in the classroom with your kid? Then you don't know jack about how well your kids teacher is teaching. Period.

focus on teaching your kid to be a good student.

kathl... kathleen5215

So, should we have input into doctors' salaries if too many of their patients don't get the diagnosis they want?  Can I slash the bus driver's pay if the bus was late due to an accident or some other reason that was out of their control?  Pay for performance is not inherently evil, but the parents should not be the ones determining the quality of performance.  The administrators in most school have a very good idea of what is going on in the classroom, and also have a more realistic view of kids' behaviors and actions.  If teachers didn't have to spend so much time defending every little tiny decision to parents who are never ever wrong, they might get to spend more time actually teaching.  

Bad teachers should not be in the classroom.  They should not be given the responsibility of educating our children and keeping them safe during school hours.  As in many other situations, the effort to weed out the bad teachers is creating problems for everyone.  

Parents: Be responsible for your children.  Listen to them and love them, but be open to the notion that they are not perfect.  They should not always get an A, or the lead in the school play, or be a starter on the soccer team.  Many, many teachers are excellent at their jobs, working for far less than they should be getting, and are sincerely interested in what is best for their students.  How would you like it if they came in and told you how to do your job?

LilyW... LilyWillowMom

As a future educator, this scares the crap out of me.

Allowing parents to have any say in the SALARY of the teacher is ridiculous.  It's horrendous.  Might as well let the kids decide how much Mrs. Teacher gets paid!  Teachers should (and some do) get evaluated in surprise visits in the classroom.  They are evaluated by administration, not parents.

Say there's a kid in class who acts up, never turns in homework, never does in-class assignments and throws spitwads rather than taking a test.  Say he's getting a whopping 5% in class (that's happened, I've seen it).  Now say the kid's dad works strange hours and can't make sure the kid goes to bed on time, so Junior stays up all night playing games.  Dad thinks the teacher is doing a bad job because Junior is failing, even though the guidance councelor, the at-risk councelor, the principal and various tutors have been consulted.  Should that dad have any say in how much the teacher is making?  No.

I agree that many teachers need more surprise evaluations.  But do I think parents should have ANY say in SALARY?  No.  But I do think parents can do the rating survey.  I just don't think it should have anything to do with how much the teacher makes.  Period.

Senia... Seniahmom

I'd want a say only to be a counter for the parents who'd be idiots and blame the teacher for everything since those a generally the big complainers.

This is a stupid idea because those whiny parents could damage a good teacher's reputation.

vulca... vulcanarcher

  I am a good teacher and I know it, so I shouldn't have to worry about how parent opinon could affect my position and my salary.  But  I am worried about it.  I am a fairly strict teacher according to my students, and quite a lot of their parents.  I expect homework to be done on time unless there is a valid excuse.  I expect students to behave civilly (I understand that I need to earn their respect, but civility within the classroom is a must).  I expect students to be just as accountable for their own actions as I am accountable for mine.  Apparently, this is too much for quite a lot of students who have quite a lot of growing up to do; parents expect everything to be handed to their child and they will take things up to the administration if I don't give their child an A even if they have turned in no work or has been present in class.  Teaching is a two way street.  I can lead a horse to water, but I can't force the horse to drink.  I can give students every chance not to fail...if students don't take advantage of what I do give to them, then who is at fault?  Especially if I contact parents and respond to parent emails only to find that everything is my fault because I just didn't give the student a good grade.


vulca... vulcanarcher

I am already under a great deal of stress just from making sure things get in on time for report cards, that I've taught my students the proper skills to get them through standardized testing and life, that I will always have the parents who scream and yell at me no matter what I do, that I will always have the students who cut-up in every single class and act out to the point where I have to go home to cry out my anger and frustration.

I can tell you, if something like this happened in the district I currently work at, or if it became a policy that is instituted nation-wide, that would be the day I would leave teaching, and I would pull my own children out of the public education system and homeschool them.

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