School board chairs debate merits of Kevin Falcon's teacher pay proposal

Two Metro Vancouver school board chairs have blasted a proposal by Liberal leadership contender Kevin Falcon for a merit-pay system for teachers.

Patti Bacchus, the Vancouver board chair, argued the monetary-reward plan would be expensive to implement and teacher performance would be difficult to assess.

“Teaching and learning is a very complex process,” Bacchus told the Straight today (January 5) by phone. “It’s not easy to measure.”

She claimed the merit-pay idea is too divisive and that a collaborative approach is needed to improve public education in B.C.

“We really need to talk to people in the system about what it is that would help them do a better job than they’re already doing.”

Falcon, who is campaigning to succeed Premier Gordon Campbell, announced yesterday he wants to see a master teacher incentive program and a model school incentive program developed in B.C.

He said innovative educators deserve to be recognized and rewarded by government, adding parents, teachers, and administrators could be involved in devising performance criteria.

“The criteria could include peer evaluation, parental input, improved test results, extra-curricular school activities, and other suggestions that may arise,” the Liberal MLA for Surrey-Cloverdale says in a statement.

“The principle, however, is clear: excellence in teaching should be rewarded and encouraged, and I make no apology for believing that our best teachers should be recognized.”

The idea has support from Dale Saip, chair of the Delta school board.

“When an opportunity like the master teacher incentive program can improve upon our model or make advancements in the system, I feel we owe it to our children to explore it,” Saip says in a statement released today by Falcon’s campaign.

“How we move forward in that certainly requires further discussion, but I think it's critical to remain open to having those conversations,” Saip adds.

But Larry Hayes, chair of the Burnaby board of education, argued Falcon’s proposed system would erode the public education system.

“I just think it’s way too simplistic to just say that we’re able to measure how teachers are doing with just a very few number of factors,” Hayes told the Straight today by phone.

He agreed with Bacchus it would be difficult to determine how to measure teacher performance.

“I’d hate to be the one establishing the criteria,” he said. “I don’t think it can be done.”

“It’s a different playing field in every different school. I don’t think that it’s realistic to even think that a system like that can be established.”

Falcon’s proposal has also been criticized by other B.C. Liberal leadership candidates and the B.C. Teachers’ Federation.

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Jan 5, 2011 at 6:23pm

Way too subjective and too many variables that no one has any control over.

Just find a way to make it easier to get rid of the bad ones.


Jan 5, 2011 at 7:35pm

If anyone should be under a system like that it should be the MP and they should be judged every 6 mo. Never mind being rewarded if they don't live up to what the public wants from them they should lose their pay along with their gold plated pensions. HOW WOULD YOU LIKE THAT KEVIN?


Jan 5, 2011 at 9:47pm

Kevin Falcon is Gordon Campbells henchman. The big mouth. His job is to bring education down to the lowest common denominator and eventually make public schools useless so private schools can take over. That frees up a load of money to give to the multinational corporations, their friends.

He doesn't care about education, all he wants is a fat directorship at the end of his political career. My advice, ignore him but work against his leadership run, work for the recall in your area and work against his re-election. If he's defeated, he can blow hot air all he wants.

Dan McLaren

Jan 5, 2011 at 11:47pm

its a great idea. Well done Kevin Falcon!


Jan 6, 2011 at 12:49pm

More teacher bashing by another socred politician. Perhaps its time for the public to evaluate Falcon to determine his merit pay. I would doubt it would be more than $1.

Michael Doyle

Jan 6, 2011 at 1:48pm

Rankings show that private schools outrank public ones by a wide margin, yet their salaries are much lower. Our first priority: get rid of the bad teachers in the public schools. Then education budgets will balance, education standards rise and families' BC school taxes eliminated.


Jan 6, 2011 at 1:49pm

Putting Falcon's Napoleon complex aside, his ego has risen to such stature that like Campbell he believes every thing he says is the ordained truth. Trouble is people believe what he says.

The 35% solution man, the Falconator, should have been turfed from government for demanding all government departments reduce their budgets by 35%. One aspect of the 'policy' was the reduction in 2003 of 35% of the number of forest fire fighters and equipment on the ground for the 2003 forest fire season. Remember Kelowna, Barriere and Louis Creek?

He rampaged through the Metro Vancouver region by turfing elected officials from the directorship of Translink replacing them with hand picked white men with "business experience" to run the billion dollar local transportation agency. He lorded over the great open pit down Cambie that saw family businesses ruined, he commanded the unwashed to accept his freeway to nowhere, almost doubling the capacity of traffic down the #1 and Port Mann only to be left in a traffic jam west of the bridge, he has destroyed more farm land in Delta than any other person in the 40 years since the ALR.

To the Falconator, anything he disagrees with is dysfunctional. I think the residents of the region can see clearly how "functional" the current directors of Translink are. We've gone from Translink to RedInk...yup, those private sector experts know their stuff.

Christine Abrams

Jan 7, 2011 at 4:45am

Most teachers I know are intrinsically motivated. Those that aren't, the "bad" teachers as you say, jayeff, will not respond to a reward and punishment system. It won't help.

Best thing to do is to revamp the whole system so that it allows for autonomy for teachers, not requiring them to teach a certain way that match someone outside education's expectations or to a certain narrow test.

Check out Ken Robinson's take on what needs to happen in education:

Leon Trotsky

Jan 9, 2011 at 11:14am

I myself went to a private school for most of elementary and all of high school. In private schools there are no unions. I got to experience "merit pay" (i.e. no seniority) first hand. Basically if the Head Master (who MASTERED the art of sticking his HEAD up his behind), judged you based on whether he like you or not. The teachers he like kept their jobs and got high salaries while the one he didn't like (who were usually the good ones) got pay cuts or were fired.

There was one teacher who punched a student and broke a ruler on another student and there were two others who manhandled students and regularly lost there temper. Yet all three were friends with the head master so they all kept their jobs.

Most of the head master's buddies, like the headmaster himself, turned a blind eye to bullying. A student could literally punch another student in the face right in front of them and they wouldn't do a think about it. They would just walked off or say "having a nice day". And believe it or not I AM NOT exaggerating.

A new one guidance counselor who actually reprimanded students for bullying. But since she was not friends with the head master she had to go.

Also, apparently that head master was anti-Semitic so Jews could forget going to that school as long as that head master was in charge. The head master apparently referred to Jewish students as "them k#@e kids".

Fortunately, the board FINALLY came to their senses and fired the scumbag.

For the second private school where I went to high-school which was also non-union. The vice-principle was allegedly pro-Hitler. There were about fifty teachers and tutors at that school and all but about four of them were white.

So basically, with "merit-pay", "merit" is defined by whether management likes you or not and is completely at the discretion of the bosses and yes they may be racist, sexist, homophobic, ablest, anti-Semitic, islamophobic, psychosiphobic or any other form of bigot in which case the bosses bigotry would play a part in who would be hired or not.