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.
You can follow Stephen Thomson on Twitter at twitter.com/thomsonstraight.